Petrov: Villa force without Downing

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Skipper Stiliyan Petrov insists Aston Villa will still be a force to be reckoned with under new manager Alex McLeish, even if winger Stewart Downing leaves the club this summer.

Petrov hopes that Villa can retain the services of Downing and bids of £12 million and £15 million from Liverpool have already been rejected. But the Bulgaria international has faith in McLeish to ensure Villa remain competitive in the Premier League, even if Downing follows Ashley Young out of the door.

Petrov said: "Young has moved on, so have Gareth Barry and James Milner in recent seasons but as a club we will keep fighting."

He added: "That's why the chairman brought in a manager with a fighting spirit.

"He will make sure we have a strong, competitive team that will be able to compete against other big teams in the Premier League. That's why he's been appointed.

"It's not nice to see good players go but that's the way football goes.

"We're not going to stop fighting, we're professionals and we're going to try to win as many games as we can to climb the table as high as we can."

He said: "We'd love to keep Stewart. He was exceptional last season and is a great talent.

"That's why he was voted the fans' player of the year and players' player of the year and he deserved both awards. He works really hard and, like I said, he's an exceptional talent.

"But the chairman (Randy Lerner) is the man who knows what is right and wrong for the club and he will always do what is right for the club and so will the manager."

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Stewart Downing
James Milner
Stiliyan Petrov
Gareth Barry
Premier League
Ashley Young
Aston Villa

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