Saturday 16 December 2017

Robbie Keane will give Villa timely boost in Premiership: Manager Alex McLeish

ASTON Villa boss Alex McLeish believes loan target Robbie Keane can provided a timely lift both on and off the pitch - but insists any deal will have to be tied up by early next week for it to go ahead.

McLeish admits the chances of temporarily signing the LA Galaxy player are "more than 50-50".

If all goes to plan, Keane could make his debut against Everton on January 14 when he would face his Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan.

McLeish said: "Robbie has got massive experience as a striker. That's first and foremost. He is a great character as well.

"Players can enlighten the dressing room as well, and these factors are all so important in this professional game.

"I just think the glove fits. He can score goals. He is capable of hurting other teams with his team play. But, as it just so happens, he is also one of the brighter guys around football and has been for a long, long time."

McLeish wants the deal tied up sooner rather than later as Keane is only available until the Major League Soccer season gets under way in March.

He said: "We are having a look at it and trying to pursue it. That is the latest although nothing is done and dusted yet.

"If we don't know by Monday, then it probably will not be done. We are certainly pursuing it and at the moment, both parties are keen. I would say the chances are a bit better than 50-50."

McLeish has once again played down reports linking record signing Darren Bent with a move to Liverpool.

The speculation has continued despite the striker himself, Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner and McLeish previously insisting Bent is not for sale.

McLeish said: "Honestly, we've not heard a thing from Liverpool. I'm aware of the speculation.

"But there has been no contact with this club and I think you've had three parties telling you that.

"You never know in this world but, at the moment, absolutely no contact. But, even if there was, we would not entertain that. We wouldn't want to entertain selling our top scorer of last season. He is a prolific marksman.

"We want him to get the goals in the second half of the season that can propel us up the table and have a good season. The club stance is we won't sell him."

Villa defender Carlos Cuellar is ruled out of Saturday's FA Cup tie at Bristol Rovers with a thigh injury. Alan Hutton is poised to replace him at right-back after losing his place following his suspension for being sent off against Arsenal two weeks ago.

Press Association

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