Zat Knight last night suggested that he still has a part to play at Aston Villa despite mounting speculation that his Villa Park days are numbered.
Over the summer months Knight has been repeatedly linked with a move away from the club he has supported since childhood.
According to sources in the North West, the defender is close to ending his two-year spell at Villa to join Gary Megson’s Bolton Wanderers.
However, Knight appears to have complicated the issue by revealing that he could yet stay and fight for his place in Martin O’Neill’s starting line-up.
In his first interview since returning back to pre-season training at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training base, Knight insisted that he might try to fill the defensive void left by the retirement of former captain Martin Laursen.
“We will miss Martin,” Knight said.
“We missed him at the end of the last season. We wish him all the best for the future. He deserves it.
“But it gives others an opportunity now and hopefully that can be me. I want to give myself a good pre-season and then be in the side when the new campaign starts.
“It’s been good to have a break but it’s nice to get back to reality too. It’s back to business now.
“The off season is about relaxing and recuperating but now it’s back to work.”
Knight has quickly adjusted to the rigours of pre-season training and has enjoyed catching up with his claret and blue team-mates.
Despite being in and out of the team since moving from Fulham in August 2007, Knight still has a close affinity with his boyhood club.
“Training is tough in pre-season,” he said.
“But we have done a bit of work ourselves while we’ve been away to make sure we come back in some kind of shape.
“Everyone is happy to see each other too.
“We haven’t really kept in a great deal of contact over the past six weeks so it’s nice to hear the stories about where they’ve been and what they’ve been up to.”
Leicester City midfielder Andy King is the latest name to be linked with Villa with manager O’Neill said to be monitoring the 20-year-old after reportedly baulking at the £7 million price tag Leeds United are quoting for teenager Fabian Delph.
n?Burnley have completed the signing of defender Brian Easton from Hamilton Academical for a £350,000 fee plus incentives.
The Scotland Under-21 international has agreed a three-year deal.