Villa boss opens the door to 'fringe players'

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Stephen Warnock has impressed his new boss at Villa Park, with Alex McLeish admitting he's happy to throw the tenacious defender a lifeline at the club after a difficult time under former boss Gerard Houllier.

The former Liverpool defender’s positive attitude in pre-season training appears to have convinced the Scottish manager to consider the left back in a starting role for the Villains, something that rarely happened under the previous regime.

Houllier, who utilised the England international in the club's reserve team, routinely ignored the 29-year-old's pleas to play in the first team, but McLeish sees it differently.

"Stephen's attitude has been phenomenal and that's what I expect of top pros playing at a top level," said the former Birmingham boss.

"He's trained really well. He played for England not so long ago and I think he's a terrific player. I need to see if he can be part of the future here. He has come back in and for me has staked his claim with his attitude alone."


Upon his arrival at Villa Park, McLeish promised a fresh start for all players, and hinted that forgotten fringe squad members such as Stephen Ireland, who will look to take on Ashley Young's vacant spot, stand a good chance of selection.

He said: “There will be a clean slate for not only the young players but also the players already here. That includes those who perhaps were probably in the doldrums, those not playing at their best. Maybe we can give them a spark by coming in. It’s a clean slate for everybody.”

Warnock, who joined Villa in 2009, was rumoured to be returning to Liverpool, but McLeish’s recent praise may quash any plans for a potential move.

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Premier League
Stephen Warnock
Aston Villa

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