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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 22, 2009

O'Neill in no rush to tie up Barry's future

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is expecting midfielder Gareth Barry to make no decision on his future until after England's two summer internationals.

Barry has only 12 months left on his current deal and has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football - a goal which has eluded Villa this season after fading in the second half of the campaign.

The England midfielder looked set to join Liverpool in an £18m move last summer only for the Reds to pull out after being unable to match Villa's asking price.

O'Neill has held talks with Barry's agent and would be delighted if the 28-year-old put pen to paper on a lucrative four-year deal.

But he accepts the former Brighton trainee is unlikely to decide on his plans until after the World Cup qualifying double header with Kazakhstan and Andorra early next month.

O'Neill said: "We have had discussions with Gareth's agent. They have gone very well. They have been very open and amicable and straightforward.

"There are things for the player to consider and for us to think about but I have said to him there is absolutely no need to rush into anything.

"He has this game against Newcastle on Sunday and then the England internationals to look forward to. I'm sure he won't get his head around everything until those two World Cup games are over.

"After he has played in those, then there will be time for proper discussions. We would like him to stay.

"But I also understand, after giving us this extra season, if someone offers him the opportunity to play in the Champions League, that is something he would look at and we would look at.''

O'Neill is aware that victory for Villa against Alan Shearer's side could send Newcastle down into the Championship.

But he insists that Villa have their own goals to achieve by winning on Sunday, notably aiming to finish fifth - one place higher than last season - and overtaking their points tally for the 2007-2008 campaign.

He said: "I certainly don't think we will be laying down our arms. We will be going to try and win the game. We have the possibility of finishing fifth and getting more points than last season and those are the rewards we want to try and claim.

"Alan Shearer wouldn't expect any favours from us. We are playing professional football and we will be trying to win. The relegation battle is very fascinating and we have been embroiled in it because we have played Hull, Middlesbrough and Newcastle in the last few games.

"But it does not come down to one game. If Newcastle lose to us, they will not be saying we are the reason they are no longer in the Premier League.

"Obviously for a club of that size, who were in the Champions League only a couple of years ago, to go down would be a big disappointment but we want to win for ourselves and have plenty to play for.''

O'Neill believes that Villa have made progress this season despite fading in the final third of the campaign.

He said: "Psychologically, if we finish fifth then people will think that is progression. But wherever we come, I think the team has improved. The fact we have played an extra 13 or 14 games compared with last year is overlooked when you analyse the season.

"The squad is not big enough to compete with the very big teams but we will be looking to add in the summer. I hope that can happen. There are things we can improve on for next season but the fact we have qualified again for European football is in itself progression.''

Villa winger Ashley Young is expected to have shaken off a calf strain suffered during the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough but right-back Luke Young is unlikely to have recovered from a foot problem which has dogged him in recent weeks.

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