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Five Aside
By ESPN Staff

Petrov denies rumours of return to Parkhead

Stilian Petrov has pledged his future to Aston Villa, after dismissing speculation he could have returned to Celtic before the transfer window closed this week.

There were strong rumours that Petrov might be used by Martin O'Neill as part of the deal which brought striker Shaun Maloney from Parkhead to Villa.

Former Bulgaria international Petrov has struggled to make a major impact since his £8 million move to Villa in August.

But 24-year-old Maloney arrived for a straight £1 million fee minutes before the window shut, and Petrov is committed to remaining at Villa.

He said: 'I had a phone call from Bulgaria before the window closed, asking if it was true that I was going back to Celtic - but I need to kill this rumour straightaway.

'Celtic have always been in my heart, and I had seven great years there - but I won't go back. With help from the new boys, I want to be part of a bright future at Aston Villa.

'New signings always give a team a lift - and to keep alive any chances we may still have of Europe, we need to start winning.'

Petrov has been impressed with John Carew and Ashley Young, who linked up effectively despite the 3-1 defeat at Newcastle in midweek - and he is also well aware of Maloney's capabilities.

He said: 'You can see already that John and Ashley are very impressive, and there will be a lot more to come from them once they have had more time together.

'Shaun is a very skilful and fast player who I think a lot of people will be impressed with. He played up front, wide left, wide right and behind the front two for Celtic and is very versatile.

'He learnt his trade playing alongside people like Chris Sutton, Henrik Larsson and John Hartson and he has learnt a lot over the last year or so.'

Sutton's blurred vision has not improved, and Villa are awaiting the results of his latest visit to the specialist.