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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 13 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 15, 2007

Aston Villa duo set for crucial contract talks

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill will use the club's three-week break from action to open talks over new contracts with central defender Olof Mellberg and midfielder Gavin McCann.

And O'Neill will also start to draw up a list of players he wants to bring to Villa in the summer after signing John Carew, Ashley Young and Shaun Maloney in January.

O'Neill had indicated he would try and thrash out new deals with Mellberg and McCann, who have 16 months remaining of their existing deals, once the transfer window had closed.

Mellberg has enjoyed another solid season in central defence and at times has even deputised at right-back before the arrival of Phil Bardsley on loan from Manchester United last month.

McCann has been a key figure in the centre of the park alongside inexperienced players such as Isaiah Osbourne, Craig Gardner and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Mellberg, who joined Villa from Racing Santander five years ago, has already indicated he would be prepared to put pen to paper on a new deal with the midlands club.

O'Neill said: 'This break is an opportunity to do a lot of things. Sorting out contracts is one of them. I said we would get down to that when January had passed us by.

'It is also an opportunity for us to run through potential summer targets as well.'

Villa are to undertake a five-day training break in Spain next week before returning to prepare for their next game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on March 3.