Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has revealed he allowed Luke Moore to leave his boyhood club because he felt the young player's heart was "no longer in it."

Moore signed for Tony Mowbray's high-flying West Bromwich Albion on loan with the view to a £3.5 million permanent deal this summer.

And, while O'Neill claims he had hoped to hang on to the 22-year-old, he has admitted that like Liam Ridgewell, Gary Cahill and Steven Davis before him, Moore felt he needed to be playing regular football.

O'Neill said: "Ideally I would have liked him to stay on but I understand he is down the pecking order of centre forwards and he feels he can play more often somewhere else.

"I think if your heart is no longer really in it any more and, it looks as if Luke's heart is not here, then perhaps it is the best thing to do. It also gets to the stage where I have to do what I consider the best for the football club."

The Villa boss clearly enjoys doing business with West Bromwich Albion even though they were once big derby rivals - he has already taken defender Curtis Davies to Villa in a similar deal.

He said: "What we have is a situation where Luke will be on loan to them to the end of the season but we have got a recall after 28 days. It will then be a permanent move at the end of the season - a wee bit like the situation with Curtis Davies."

O'Neill admitted he was saddened that Moore - another successful product of the youth academy at Bodymoor Heath, was leaving but understood his reasons.

The England Under 21 striker was hailed as a rising star three or four seasons ago but in recent months has seen fellow Academy striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and new signings John Carew, Shaun Maloney, Ashley Young and Marlon Harewood all transcend him.

He said: "I am disappointed because I was hoping that he would stay here and battle. But I suppose as a player if you feel you are not going to be in the side and you feel that you are not being given a chance or perhaps feel that you have never been given a chance - that might be Luke's view - then maybe it is time to move on.

"I have seen some DVDs back over the years when Luke was absolutely frightening - he was terrific - so I don't know whether a change of manager or change of environment might be the thing that will do him the world of good.

"He hasn't thrived to the same degree under me and perhaps a change of manager might be what he wants."

Moore was cursed by injury which O'Neill admits did not help his cause.

He said: "Luke's shoulder injury definitely put him back because he was in the starting line up under that particular system and then he was out for the next few months.

"Having said that he came roaring back and pre-season he was looking as good as anyone. Perhaps in some of the games he was a bit unlucky. At Tottenham Hotspur last New Year he played and maybe could have scored twice in the match.

"I think sometimes players - particularly centre-forwards - need to score goals to help things look much, much brighter."

O'Neill continued: "There has not been a player here who, under normal circumstances, I have pushed out of the door but the fact is these players felt they wanted regular football.

"In the case of Liam (Ridgewell) he felt he wanted to play more. He had a place in the side in the early part of the season but then lost his place.

"Gary (Cahill) went out on loan and felt he was capable of playing in the side but there are only so many players you can play in a game at one time and players are going to be unhappy at not being included.

"In the end we got £2.5 million for Ridgewell, £4.5 million for Cahill, £4 million for Steven Davis and £3.5 million for Luke Moore - around £15 million. I believe in most of the cases, if not all, we have a sell-on fee attached so the club will benefit as they go on.

"There is always a chance players will come back and haunt you but I never worry about that. I would be delighted if they go on to be quality players then I can repent at leisure!"