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By ESPN Staff

Laursen keen to succeed Barry as Villa skipper

Martin Laursen would be 'honoured' to captain Aston Villa if offered the armband by Martin O'Neill as Gareth Barry's successor.

The Denmark international has already been tipped by his compatriot and ex-Liverpool star Jan Molby as the 'ideal replacement' for Liverpool target Barry.

The England midfielder has been disciplined and told to stay away from the club by O'Neill after his newspaper attack on the Villa manager.

And Barry will not be part of the squad which heads to Switzerland tomorrow for a mini five-day tour in preparation for the Intertoto Cup.

O'Neill accepts Barry's days at Villa are numbered and Laursen, although disappointed to see the 27-year-old leaving the midlands club, would jump at the chance to take over as skipper.

He said: 'If I was given the captaincy if Aston Villa, I would be proud and I would say 'yes'. I would be very happy with that.

'Gareth has been a good captain for us but, if I can become captain, I will take it.

'If someone else is made captain, fair enough, but I would welcome (being) captain. This is a great club which is moving forward.'

Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker appears to be the other main candidate amongst the current players to succeed Barry.

He held the role with the England Under-21s and West Ham before his move to Villa last summer.

If Laursen is named captain, it will represent another big step forward for the 30-year-old whose career had been threatened by a long-term knee injury.

But last season he played every minute of every Premier League game in helping Villa finish sixth and secure a place in the Intertoto Cup.

Laursen said: 'On a personal level, I would like to play as many games as last season and be fit. I haven't been fit enough during my four years here.

'Last season was good, I played all the games. It was very pleasing for me after my first three years here when I was injured too much.

'But I'd like to repeat that this season. How I play is important but I would like to make the quantity important as well. I need to play games.'

Laursen is relaxed about the lack of activity in the transfer market by O'Neill so far this summer and knows the importance of bringing in quality players to enhance the squad.

He said: 'It is very early and there are many weeks until the season starts, and I am sure that we are going to improve the squad for August 16.

'But it is not that easy to bring in players because we want the right players and we want good players.

'We want to improve on the position we finished last season and we want to improve as a club as well. We want to move forward. You need quality players to do that.'

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