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By ESPN Staff

O'Neill closes in on capture of Cuellar

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is hoping to wrap up the signing of Carlos Cuellar from Rangers as he continues his bid to strengthen his squad.

Villa agreed a £7.8million fee with the Scottish giants on Monday night for the central defender, who will hold talks with the club and undergo a medical today.

O'Neill has already tied up deals this summer for goalkeepers Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan, full-backs Luke Young and Nicky Shorey and midfielder Steve Sidwell and believes he must continue to add depth if the West Midlands side are to challenge the Premier League's top four.

'If we're going to try and compete, even at Premier League level let alone Europe, we need a decent squad. So we need to keep adding quality if we can,' O'Neill said.

'We've lost Freddie Bouma and we were quite thin on the ground before that. That sort of injury can happen at any given minute. Therefore we need to try and safeguard as much as we can.

'What we've done is bring in a recognised right-back and a recognised left-back to help us. We didn't have the right-back last year but it wasn't for lack of trying.

'We've not finished. We'll still have some players coming in to give us a chance and if we're lucky enough to qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Cup that would take us right up to Christmas and we'll most definitely need the squad.

'Last season we were exceptionally lucky with injuries. Eight or nine players played over 30 games and we didn't have big runs in the FA or League Cup - therefore we were able to concentrate on the league.

'All that could change this season and the fact is that we need the squad to be bigger to cope with that. That's what we're trying to do.'

SIDWELL OUT OF CUP TIE

Aston Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell will miss this week's UEFA Cup qualifier in Iceland with a calf strain.

The ex-Chelsea player sat out the recent friendly against his former club Reading, as well as two games on last week's trip to Spain, after suffering the problem in training.

And manager Martin O'Neill has opted not risk him for Thursday's second qualifying round first leg against FH Hafnarfjordur ahead of the Barclays Premier League opener against Manchester City on Sunday.

``I think Steve will only start doing a bit of work later this week so he will not be fit for Thursday,'' O'Neill told www.avfc.co.uk.

end

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