Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill and his side may be in Spain preparing for the next stage in their European adventure but the Northern Irishman still has the signing of new players at the forefront of his mind.
Speculation is mounting that Reading left-back Nicky Shorey could be the latest Villa acquisition if the club can tempt the England international to join the Villa Park revolution instead of Roy Keane’s Sunderland.
Reading manager Steve Coppell said he was about to lose the 27-year-old and reports suggested that Villa and the Black Cats had had bids accepted for the player who is said to be worth about £4 million. Shorey has been given permission to talk to the clubs involved.
Coppell said: “Without being specific about any destination, I expect Nicky to be gone by the time we kick off (against Nottingham Forest in the Championship) this weekend.
“There has been interest, and I expect him to be plying his trade with someone else by the time we get to Nottingham. Of course I would love him, even now, to turn around and say ‘you know what, I don’t fancy a move, I’ve spent so many years at Reading, I want to stay here and help guide them back into the Premiership.’
“But, he’s been consistent right from this time last year. He’s said he wanted to go, try a fresh challenge. We’ll see what happens but I imagine he’ll be gone.”
Villa met Reading in a pre-season friendly at the Madejski Stadium at the weekend with Shorey appearing about to join Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth.
The player was seen saying his farewells to his Royals team-mates as they left the dressing-room after the match, which ended 1-1, while Pompey assistant manager Tony Adams was seen watching from the stands.
But with no bid on the table yet from the south coast club it would seem that either Villa or Sunderland are in the driving seat to sign.
Shorey folllowing the loss of regular left-back Freddie Bouma who faces a lay-off of up to five months after dislocating his ankle in pre-season.
Villa and Portsmouth have faced a tug of war over a raft of players during the last two seasons including Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch, with both clubs eager to try to break into the monopoly of the top four Champions League sides.
Meanwhile, Villa’a preparations for their busy start to the season were going well with midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker revealing that the trip had given the team time to bond with new boys including former Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell.
He also revealed that the mini-training camp on the Costa del Sol was anything but a jolly. He said the five-day trip was “essential” preparation for the first team before their matches with FH Hafnarfjardur in the Uefa Cup qualifier and then Manchester City in their Premier League opener.
Reo-Coker said: “We’re training hard and that’s important as we get ready for the start of the Premier League season as well as our important Uefa Cup qualifying games.
“This is an important stage in our pre-season programme and we want to work as hard as possible with the coaches as we get ourselves ready. We have the likes of Steve Sidwell here who we have obviously trained with at Bodymoor Heath. But going away as a group is good for team building and it’s better for bonding with the new boys.”
Villa plan a practice match against Marbella on Thursday before returning home.