ENDA STEVENS has been included in the Aston Villa squad for this evening's FA Cup showdown with League Two side Bristol Rovers.
The Dubliner has made a good impression on Alex McLeish since his move from Shamrock Rovers and he is now eligible for selection after the transfer window re-opened.
However the game will come too soon for Shay Given, who is in line to return from injury against Everton in the Premier League next weekend. McLeish also hopes that Robbie Keane's loan move from LA Galaxy will be completed by then.
Meanwhile, the Scot has paid tribute to Stephen Ireland for his turnaround in form. The Corkman has been a costly disappointment since his move from Manchester City, but is finally starting to show glimpses of his ability.
"Long may that continue," said McLeish. "He has now set the benchmark and has got to keep playing at that level because he definitely brings something to the party. It helps if he puts himself around. That side of the game is something the fans adore players doing."
Another Irishman that McLeish has targeted -- midfielder Keith Andrews -- has options on the table despite a hamstring problem suffered on his final loan appearance for Ipswich.
Wigan are the latest Premier League side to express an interest in the Dubliner, although Ipswich boss Paul Jewell is still hopeful of making a permanent move to end Andrews' unhappy spell at Blackburn.
"I believe his agent has met with a couple of Premier League teams this week," said Jewell. "I do think we've still got a chance though. He needs to play regularly, with the European Championships coming up and I think he enjoyed his time here.
"There are a lot of plusses on our side, but if a Premier League team offers him a good deal he'll obviously have to consider that. We're fighting for his signature."
Meanwhile, simon Cox has said he may need to leave West Brom to play regular football, but manager Roy Hodgson intends to make it difficult for him to move on.
Hodgson is facing an injury crisis with eight first-team players out. Cox will only leave Albion if someone comes in with a "silly offer", according to Hodgson
"He is not one of the players I would be happy to see leave the club," said Hodgson. "If Manchester City or someone like that comes in and offers a lot of money, who knows?"
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Bristol Rovers v Aston Villa,
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