Aston Villa striker John Carew insists he is at Villa Park for the long haul, adding he would be more than happy to put down roots in the Midlands for as long as the club can utilise his services.
The decision of Villa’s skipper Gareth Barry to seek a move to Liverpool has no doubt had supporters wondering just who else among Villa’s stars are attracting interest and may be enticed to jump ship.
Some fear that if Villa’s star man is prepared to turn his back on the club, despite its lofty ambitions and excellent progress last season, then anyone may be prepared to go if a flattering offer comes in.
But Norwegian giant Carew insists he is more than happy to stick with Villa and help manager Martin O’Neill continue the transformation which started when he took over two seasons ago and ended last season with the club finshing sixth in the Premier League and in Europe via the Intertoto competition.
Carew said: “I plan to stay at Villa for the long haul - I have two more years here and there is no need to rush with anything. I am very happy to be here and I would like to stay for many years more and if that is the club’s interest, that is my interest as well.
“I would like to stay here for a long time if possible. I really like it here, am really happy here so I am absolutely open for that.
"I would also like to put roots down here for a quite a long time. It is a league that really suits me well and I am happy with the football and really enjoy playing it. That is important to me.”
The former Valenica and Roma striker, speaking as the club flew out to Switzerland for a two-match mini traininng camp, admitted he was glad to be back for the pre-season, saying: “It is good to be back. We have some important matches coming up. We now have the Intertoto in two weeks and the players have certainly come back a bit more fit than normal from their vacations.
“All the physical tests up until now show that, so I think we will be quite well prepared when the Intertoto kicks off.”
Carew agreed the carrot of Uefa Cup football was a huge incentive to see off either Odense BK or Turku in the third round stage of the Intertoto which is played over two legs on July 19 and July 26.
He said: “Of course Uefa is a big incentive. It is not easy and we have matches in front of us which we need to win to qualify but I know we are better than the teams we have got to meet so it is up to us to be 100 per cent prepared.
“If we are, and don’t take anything lightly, I am sure we will make it.”
Carew said he agreed with comments made recently by team-mate Nigel Reo-Coker that there was no need to panic about transfers and new signings. Carew has every faith in manager Martin O’Neill to bring in the quantity and quality of players Villa need not just for their foray into Europe but their advance on the Premier League and the coveted top four places in particular.
He said: “I am sure the gaffer will pick out the right players to make us even stronger than last year so I’m not worried about that. It was a blow to hear Gareth (Barry) wanted to go but that is football. I don’t think anyone is shocked, but if you are losing a good player, who has been at the club for many years - and he was one of our best players last year - then it is sad.
“We are now waiting to see who comes in to replace him and I think it will be a good player.”
Carew continued: “I am not using too much energy on Gareth Barry’s situation. I am focusing on the team we have here, the players we have here, and not all the surroundings. In the end it is sad he is leaving but in the players’ heads, that is not what we are thinking about. We are focusing on what we have and in the end we will get new players which hopefully will make the team stronger than before.”
And Carew has no fear that other players like Ashley Young or Gabriel Agbonlahor may also get their heads turned as Barry did while away on international duty with England. He said: “There is always interest around good players. That is the part of the game but it is nothing that scares anybody because that is how football is every year in different clubs.
“This year it is Villa, next year it will be another club. The interest will be around all good players and I’m not scared about losing anyone really because players that are here love the club and are really proud of being here and being part of the team.I am definitely not scared of losing any of them now.”