O’Neill expects market to hot up

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Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill expects the fight to both retain leading players and make new signings to heat up in the next couple of weeks.

The Midlands club have already rejected one bid of £20million from Manchester City for England midfielder James Milner at the beginning of the summer.

During the last off-season, former captain Gareth Barry made the same move to Eastlands in a blow to O'Neill's hopes of transforming Villa into a top-four force.

The battle to keep hold of Milner is expected to intensify now that he has returned from World Cup duty, while O'Neill is also looking to bolster his squad with new signings.

He told the club's official website:"There is a lot of speculation, obviously, at this time of the year and it will hot up now over the next couple of weeks.

"From my own viewpoint, I would like players to stay here and try and build. Sometimes that is not always possible but we have got a couple of weeks now and we will review the position.

"But for us to have even the same sort of season as last year, one, we would have to be a bit lucky and, two, we would have to try and strengthen."

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