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By ESPN Staff

Tumour forces Aitken to step aside at Villa

Goalkeeping coach Eric Steele will be in charge of Aston Villa's team affairs during their pre-season tour of Germany and Holland.

The former Manchester City player will replace caretaker manager Roy Aitken, who has withdrawn from the trip to continue his recovery from recent surgery.

Villa are hoping Martin O'Neill will be David O'Leary's permanent successor but he is unlikely to be in place for at least the opening match of the three-game tour against Hanover on Saturday.

Aitken has been in charge since the departure of O'Leary a fortnight ago.

He is still recovering from surgery to remove a tumour following a routine medical check-up earlier in the summer.

Although the operation was a complete success he has been advised to continue his rehabilitation under the guidance of his surgeon.

Aitken said: 'When the manager left a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to take temporary charge and I came back to work earlier than I should have.

'But a pre-season tour, with all it entails, is a step too far at this stage and it's probably best that I leave it to people who are fully fit and able to work to full capacity.

'The chairman Doug Ellis has been very fair and backs my decision to take a back seat for a few weeks and put my own health first.'

O'Neill is still Ellis' preferred choice as the new manager but the Irishman will not be rail-roaded into a decision particularly with four consortiums vying to buy the midlands club.

It is likely he will take the weekend to deliberate over his future.