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South Africa
By ESPN Staff

Mellberg in no rush over new deal

Aston Villa's long-serving defender Olof Mellberg insisted he is in 'no rush' to sign a new contract with the midlands club.

The Swedish international claimed he is relaxed about the situation despite having entered the final season of his current deal.

Mellberg admitted talks had taken place over a new deal but is adamant he is focusing on his on the pitch duties as a makeshift right-back.

The former Racing Santander player, who has been at Villa for six years, said: There have been talks but we will just have to see what will happen.

'There is no rush from my point of view. We will just have to see what happens.

'Will I run the contract down? I don't want to close any doors. At the moment I am just focusing on doing as well as I can for the team and myself.

'We are a month or so into the season now, I am focusing on the football and that's what I want to talk about really.'

Mellberg had formed a solid centre-back pairing with Martin Laursen during the latter part of last season and the early stages of the current campaign.

But the arrival of Zat Knight, and a lack of any specialist right-back in the squad, meant he has been moved over to the right flank for the past three games with Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton.

He said: 'I'm trying to do the job as best as I can if that is where the gaffer (Martin O'Neill) wants me to play.'

The 30-year-old could leave on a free Bosman transfer next summer if he decides not to sign a new deal.

Mellberg also believes his Aston Villa team-mate Gabriel Agbonlahor 'has the potential' to make the step up into the full England squad.

The former Villa skipper has been impressed with the big strides Agbonlahor has made since breaking into the Villa side on a regular basis at the start of last season.

His pace on the right flank has troubled opposing defenders but the England Under-21 player has also looked sharp in the middle alongside John Carew.

Now Agbonlahor is set to enjoy an extended run in his preferred central striking role with Carew sidelined for up to six weeks with damaged knee ligaments - starting with tonight's home Carling Cup clash with Leicester.

And Mellberg believes he would not let England down if he got the call from Steve McClaren whose striking options are rapidly diminishing for the vital Euro 2008 qualifiers with Estonia and Russia next month.

The Swedish international told PA Sport: 'I think Gabby is doing really well already. He can play in different positions and has done well for us in both of those roles, out wide and also up front.

'When he came through the ranks and started training with the first-team squad, he had that raw pace - and that was his main asset.

'Now he has improved a lot in just over a year or so. He has a much better touch on the ball and a lot of other aspects have improved.

He is doing really well for us already and hopefully he can improve even more.'

Mellberg added: 'Can Gabby make the England step up? I think so. It is tough to get into the England side. It is one of the best in the world but he has the potential to do that.

'He has improved over the last couple of years and if he can keep that going, I am sure he will get chances.

'It is difficult for me to compare him with everyone else. If I said Gabby should definitely play for England, it would be disrespectful to someone else who I probably don't know as well as Gabby.

'But I can definitely see Gabby performing internationally as well. He has got a lot of talent in a lot of ways.'