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By ESPN Staff

Villa will fight to keep Young

Gary McAllister admits the lure of Champions League football may make it difficult for Aston Villa to keep hold of Ashley Young after this season.

Caretaker manager McAllister refuses to accept it is inevitable Young, who has only year left of his contract, will move from Villa Park. But he knows what it means to play on the biggest club stage after tasting it with Liverpool at the tail-end of his distinguished career.

McAllister, who continues to deputise while manager Gerard Houllier recovers from his heart problems, said: "I don't think it's inevitable Ashley will go. We will do everything we can to keep him here. He has become an England player playing for Aston Villa.

"The partnership of him and Darren Bent has looked exciting for Fabio Capello, for sure.

"The grass is also not always greener somewhere else but we are not silly. We have to be realistic. All players have ambition to play in the Champions League. We can't give them that. It's a goal but we all know how difficult it is to get up there.

"You can always understand the lure of playing in that competition. I managed to get a touch of it as a balding old man (with Liverpool) and it is a great experience.''

McAllister knows Young will have to come to terms with being more under the microscope if he joins one of the top four clubs compared to at Villa.

He said: "It's difficult because you know how high the expectation levels are here. But when you go to these other clubs - I'm talking about the top four or five where the pressure is on - then the microscope becomes even greater. The criticism becomes greater because each and every little move is under scrutiny. Some people can't deal with it.''

McAllister is quick to praise Young for the way he has remained focused on helping Villa in their relegation battle.

He said: "The facts are that Ashley could have been distracted with all the talk. There's not a day passed when he hasn't been linked with somebody but he is a good professional. Maybe in games he's been a wee bit up and down - but he gives 100%''

McAllister confirmed Villa plan to hold talks with midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, who is out of contract in the summer, over his future.

He said: "We spoke the last time in November, December but we're fully aware of the situation and we'll be looking to speak to Nigel over the next two or three weeks. He's a player who's been very committed since we've arrived, when he's been in the team and out of the team.

"He's actually won his place in the team by the way he's gone about his training in the week and I applaud that.''


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