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By ESPN Staff

Bannan gets 18 month driving ban

Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan has been banned from driving for 18 months and fined £4,500 after being charged with a string of driving offences following a motorway crash.

Bannan, 21, from Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, was charged last week with driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop after a road accident, driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving without due care and attention.

Nottinghamshire Police said the charges related to a ''single vehicle collision'' on the southbound carriageway of the M1 near Watnall, at around 5.30am on Sunday October 23. Police said a 20-year-old man arrested and bailed in connection with the same incident would not face charges.

In a statement released by Aston Villa after Friday's hearing, Scottish international Bannan said:"I am very conscious of the fact that I have let down a lot of people by my actions, which I deeply regret.

"I have let down my family, my club, the supporters of Aston Villa, all of the people who have helped me to get to this stage in my football career and I have let down myself. I'm really sorry.

"Obviously, I have to try to make up for a terrible error of judgement and I intend to do so, first by accepting the fine and punishment handed down by the court and subsequently by my actions. Drink-driving is a very serious offence and there is no excuse for what I have done.

"The club has been very supportive throughout this process and I want to concentrate now on my responsibilities to Villa and work hard to get back in the team.''

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish hopes Bannan has "learnt a harsh lesson". McLeish made his feelings known at his media conference ahead of Sunday's game at Swansea.

He said: "From the outset we showed a tough stance on it (suspending Bannan) when we found out Barry had got into a little bit of trouble. We now have the verdict and the wee man has got to get on with his life and his football career.

"Hopefully this is a harsh lesson for him and it is also a warning to other players at the club, and the young players especially, in terms of growing up and trying to be a professional footballer.

"Footballers are seen as role models. He has had a real shock, he has shown contrition, he is very ashamed of what happened. I'm certain we will see a different Barry Bannan in the coming months or years.''

McLeish confirmed Bannan will be in contention for a place against the Swans. He was initially left out of the squad against Sunderland while the club conducted an internal inquiry and also did not feature against Norwich, although he was available for selection.