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Jun 21, 2011

McLeish wants Downing to stay

Newly-recruited Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish is gearing up for showdown talks with wantaway winger Stewart Downing, with the manager admitting "we certainly don't want to lose Stewart".

McLeish, who was officially unveiled at Villa Park on Monday, faces the immediate task of trying to persuade key members of his first-team squad to stay at the club.

However, with Downing stalling on contract talks and Liverpool reportedly bidding £12 million for his services, McLeish has a tough job on his hands to keep hold of "a top player".

"No chance do we want Stewart Downing to go. We certainly don't want to lose Stewart," McLeish told talkSPORT. "He's a top player. I need to see what Stewart's thinking when he comes back because I know that he made some comments when he was away on England duty.

"I'll have a chat with one or two in the coming days and weeks before pre-season training starts and once I get them in for pre-season training proper then I'll get a better idea."

While McLeish may be hopeful he can convince Downing to remain at the club, he is less optimistic about the future of Ashley Young. The England flyer is set to complete a move to Manchester United when he returns from holiday and McLeish is resigned to losing the 25-year-old.

"It's not confirmed yet but it does seem likely," he said. "In my humble opinion it will be very difficult [to keep hold of him]."

McLeish is to hold talks with defender Carlos Cuellar over his future. He said: "I've only been in the door a couple of days. I did see Carlos in the dining room and he has got an injury at the moment. I know there is interest from Rangers but I have to assess things from an Aston Villa point of view.

"Maybe we have to keep Carlos here and he has got to fight for his place again."

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