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By ESPN Staff

Former Aston Villa star loses cancer battle

Former Aston Villa and Wolves midfielder Paul Birch has died at the age of 46 after a battle with cancer.

Birch, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in May last year, died this morning at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, a hospital spokesman confirmed.

Birch came through Villa's youth team and made more than 200 appearances for the club between 1980 and 1991 before he was sold to Wolves for £400,000.

The midlander then stayed at Molineux for five years and went on to play for Preston, Doncaster and Exeter before retiring from the game in 1999.

A statement on read: ''Villa are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Paul Birch. We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends.''

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