Aston Villa manager David O´Leary has praised "the great character" shown by centre-back Liam Ridgewell, who is poised to sign a new three-year contract with the midlands club.

Ridgewell was not O´Leary´s first choice at the start of the 2005-06 season, but injuries to the likes of Martin Laursen, Mark Delaney and skipper Olof Mellberg meant he started 33 games. The reward for the England Under-21 player is a contract until the summer of 2009.

"Liam has stood up and has been counted," O´Leary told PA Sport. "All of last season he was playing with different partners and did really well."

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