Gareth Southgate is the only Villa player to be named in Kevin Keegan's England squad for next month's vital games against Sweden and Bulgaria. Given the expensive collection of Englishmen at Villa Park these days it comes as something of a surprise that only one man should be called to the national colours, but the ravages of a long season, aswell as the well documented non-footballing problems of certain individuals inevitably play a part. When everyone is fit Villa might well have up to seven England internationals on their books in Southgate, Dubliln, Merson, Hendrie, Barry, Stone and Collymore. However at this point in time it is probably just as well that the majority of those players are taking it easy, or in some cases getting the treatment their respective problems require.
28/5 - All settled
Villa Park is scheduled to expand in January.
Villa expect to start work on turning Villa Park into a 50,000 capacity stadium in January. Villa were finally given the go-ahead for the £18 million project by Birmingham City Council after a meeting on Thursday. Villa will add almost 11,000 seats to their current capacity and when the building work is finished it will mean that Villa Park is the second largest ground in the Premiership in terms of capacity. Only Old Trafford, which has a capacity of 56,000, will be bigger. As part of Villa plans, they are also to build a 140-room hotel while an idea to build a supermarket remains under discussion. Villa faced objections to the scheme from angry local residents who are concerned by the prospect of having more supporters in the vicinity of the ground on match days. In exchange for getting the planning permission, Villa have to improve parking around the ground and also try and encourage fans to make more use of public transport to get to and from the ground. Villa first drew up plans to add to the capacity at Villa Park two years ago. But they had to go back to the drawing board when the original plan did not meet with the approval of the council. Under the new scheme, the stand will be built over the Trinity Road. Villa are hopeful that having another 50,000 capacity stadium in the country will boost England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup. It should also ensure that any future ticket price rises at Villa Park will be kept to a minimum.
28/5 - No way from Colly
Stan Collymore denies everything.
In a statement issued by the Football Association Villa striker Stan Collymore has denied allegations of drug-taking. Collymore has been the subject of an FA probe in the wake of newspaper claims that he took drugs while being treated for depression at the exclusive Priory clinic in London. And the FA issued a brief statement which read: "The Football Association, Aston Villa and Stan Collymore have today been involved in talks regarding recent newspaper allegations. "Stan Collymore has strenuously denied the allegations and has agreed to be the subject of random testing by the FA's doping control unit in the future."
27/5 - Expansion a reality
Aston Villa have been given the green light to expand their stadium.
City planners have today approved Villa's second proposal to extend Villa Park's 39,000 capacity by extending both the Trinity Road and North stands. The blueprint increases Villa Park's capacity to 50,000 but the approval was only given on the club funding new parking schemes locally. The scheme will also involve the development of a hotel.
MEANWHILE, duo Lee Hendrie and Gareth Barry have today been named in the England Under 21 squad to play Sweden and Bulgaria.
26/5 - Expansion in the pipes
The 50,000+ capacity boost is moving closer.
Villa should this week move a step closer to turning Villa Park into a 50,000 capacity stadium. The club's plans are to be discussed by Birmingham Council's development control committee on Thursday. Council offers have recommended that Villa's plans are given the green light. Villa have been seeking to get the go-ahead for the development for the last few months. They have had to draw up fresh plans after their original proposals ran into major protests from local residents. Under part of the new plans, Villa have got to improve match day parking around Villa Park so that cars are kept off residential streets. Villa are also hoping to persuade more fans to make use of public transport to travel to and from Villa Park. But the green light to rebuild the Trinity Road and add another 11,000 seats to the capacity now seems imminent. Villa are convinced that the demand for extra seats is there. They are also hopeful that, in the long run, having extra capacity will enable the club to keep any future ticket price rises to a minimum. Villa have also not hidden from the fact that with the rising cost of competing at the very top level, the extra income from increased capacity would help them to try and attract the very best players to Villa Park.
26/5 - Get them while they're hot!
Aston Villa introduces a new ticket system next season.
There will be new ticket procedures in place next season at Villa Park. Firstly, instead of the record card used in previous seasons by Villa's travelling faithful, a Season Ticket Holders Away Match Privilege Card will be available to provide the opportunity to book away tickets by telephone, fax and Email as well as by post and personal application. And secondly, a Home Match Ticket Privilege Card will replace the record card used in previous seasons and dispenses with the need to cut vouchers from tickets and attach them to a card. It allows cardholders the opportunity to book tickets by telephone, fax and Email as well as by post and personal application. It also provides a priority window between Season Ticket Holders and General Sale for away match tickets. Application forms for both are now available at the ticket office.
23/5 - Bozzie accolade
Bozzie is now officially the finest keeper in the Prem.
Mark Bosnich has been commended as the Premiership's top goalkeeper following the publication of this season's Carling Opta Index results. The Carling Opta Index is widely recognised for providing the most indepth assessment of any player in the country, with marks awarded for every goal, pass, tackle, shot, dribble and header amongst others. The Index announces the nation's top performers in the goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, attacking midfielder and striker categories by assessing every game of the Premier League season. The country's top attacker was named as Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp. Chelsea's Uruguayan midfielder Gustavo Poyet headed the list for attacking midfielders, whilst Newcastle's Didi Hamann was top of the list for the midfield section. Campbell was named top defender, with Bosnich named as top goalkeeper.
23/5 - Higher!
Colin Calderwood has been recalled to Scotland.
Colin Calderwood has capped a remarkable two months by being recalled to Scotland squad for Euro 2000 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and the Czech Republic next month. The 34-year-old central defender signed for Villa from Premiership rivals Spurs during transfer deadline week and made an immediate impact in the side. It was a transfer that has rekindled his international ambitions and Calderwood is now set to win his 33rd cap for his country after last playing for Scotland in the 3-2 defeat of Estonia in a Euro 2000 qualifier at Tynecastle last October. A delighted Calderwood said: Calderwood said: "I'm taking nothing for granted. Obviously I would love to play in both matches in June, but at the moment I'm just happy being back in the squad. "People say I have had a strange season, but moves like mine from Tottenham to Aston Villa happen all the time. It's part and parcel of the game. I'm just glad to be playing in the Premier League and having this extension to my season."
20/5 - Duble bonus
Dion Dublin has succesfully passed his operation.
Villa's £5.75 million striker Dion Dublin has successfully come through a hernia operation. The England international is now resting after the surgery but will be back to full fitness by the time that Villa report back for pre-season training in July. Dublin had been carrying the hernia problem for the last few months and he had hoped to delay the surgery until the end of the season. But, having been sidelined by a knee injury that brought his first campaign at Villa Park to a premature end, Villa booked him in for the operation a week earlier than he had originally anticipated. John Gregory is now keeping his fingers crossed that Dublin will be back to his best form in front of goal when the new season starts.
20/5 - Scrutiny required
Aston Villa's approach for Boateng will be further investigated.
The Football Association have stepped-up their investigation into allegations that Villa made an illegal approach for Coventry City's George Boateng earlier this year. The Dutch midfielder was interviewed by the FA earlier this week and officials are expecting a decision early next month. Sky Blues chairman Bryan Richardson today revealed the matter was left until the end of the Premiership campaign amid fears that it would seriously affect the players' form at a crucial time for the club as they fought of the threat of relegation. "I don't think we'll know anything probably for a few weeks yet," revealed Mr Richardson. "The FA interviewed George earlier this week because we refused any conversations until the season was over." "It does happen, players do get unsettled by people, agents and players and players from other clubs, making approaches and so on. It was certainly the case with that, so something will come out soon."
18/5 - Move it!
Aston Villa players will live in the Midlands in the future.
John Gregory has brought in a new rule that all of his players have got to live in the Midlands. Recent signings Steve Stone and Paul Merson have agreed to move to the area, while Colin Calderwood has already bought a flat in the area. The only two players who currently live a substantial distance from Villa Park are ever present left-back Alan Wright and goalkeeper Michael Oakes. They travel in from Manchester together every day. Gregory will make the ruling clear when he opens contract talks with the duo. Both former Blackburn Rovers' defender Wright and Oakes have just one one-year remaining on their contracts at Villa Park. Gregory is keen to persuade both of them to sign long term deals, but will make it clear that they must move closer to Villa Park. Having players living in the vicinity of the club is a rule that was first brought in at Villa Park by Graham Taylor. Gregory feels that the time has now come to re-introduce it as he feels that it is part and parcel of doing a job professionally. Living in the area shows a commitment to the club and the new rule about living in the area is certain to top the agenda when he does get round to sitting down and discussing new deals with Wright and Oakes.
18/5 - Colly charge
Stan Collymore may sue Aston Villa is the #### hits the fan.
Stan Collymore will sue for damages if Aston Villa carry out their threat to sack him. Players' Union chief Gordon Taylor confirmed: "Legal action seems certain unless Villa delay any action. "It is a very delicate position surrounding Stan, and we would prefer to resolve it in football terms. "Essentially, Villa are being asked to show patience until Stan is declared fit following his recent treatment for clinical depression." Striker Collymore, who cost £7million and with two seasons left on his contract, has not kicked a ball for nearly two months.
18/5 - Scimeca stays
Riccardo Scimeca now wants to stay with the Villa.
Aston Villa defender Riccardo Scimeca has withdrawn his transfer request at Villa Park. The 23-year-old had been on the transfer list for six months after a lack of first-team chances but has had a change of heart. "I made the decision because I am happy with myself and the way things are going at the club," Scimeca told Aston Villa's official website. "Obviously I want to play on a regular basis and I feel that I will get the chance to do so next season because I have continually been involved for the majority this season. "At the time I felt it was the right decision to make, but it was hard because I have been at Villa since a schoolboy. However, I was delighted to inform the secretary of my decision and it is brilliant to be settled here once again." Scimeca had been struggling with a groin injury for the last few weeks but was in the starting line-up for Villa's 1-0 defeat in their final game of the season at Arsenal last Sunday.
16/5 - Hurts like an SOB!
John Gregory didn't hide the agony of missing out on Europe today.
Aston Villa boss John Gregory revealed huge disappointment of missing out on Europe after a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal. Villa boss John Gregory reflected on a season in which his side had led the way for 14 weeks only to finish sixth and outside Europe. He was unhappy with the display of referee Dermot Gallagher at Highbury, especially in only booking Tony Adams when the Arsenal captain brought down Julian Joachim as the striker raced towards goal. "It's a big disappointment that we have ended up with nothing as the InterToto Cup is a route to Europe and a number of teams have tried to qualify for it," he conceded. But Gregory added: "I don't think there was a lot between United and Arsenal this season and it's a remarkable job that Arsene Wenger has done here, playing a lot of games and still fielding almost the same team every week."
12/5 - Victory for the Villa
Aston Villa today defeated Cardiff in a friendly.
John Gregory's Premiership side raced into three-goal lead by half-time thanks to goals from Steve Stone, his first for the club, player of the year Julian Joachim and Paul Merson. Cardiff's reply, in the last minute, ironically came from 'honoured' striker Carl Dale from the penalty spot following a rather harsh handball decision on Riccardo Scimeca. Villa were always in control but were not expecting a guest second half performance from Welsh veteran Neville Southall who denied Gregory's side on a number of occasions. Merson's was the pick of the goals, an exquisite chip following a defence splitting ball from skipper Gareth Southgate.
11/5 - Discipline, son!
John Gregory is considering disciplinary action against Watson.
Aston Villa manager John Gregory is considering taking disciplinary action against Steve Watson. The £4m defender faces a one-match ban after being sent off in Saturday's 4-3 home defeat by Charlton for a foul on Martin Pringle, but Gregory said: 'He should be out for four matches after a challenge like that.'
10/5 - Jules POTY!
Julian Joachim has been named Aston Villa Player Of The Year.
Julian Joachim was named as Villa's Player Of The Year and was then told by manager John Gregory: "You can and will get better". The 23-year-old former Leicester City striker, who has terrorised Premiership defences this season, collected his accolade at the club's annual gala evening at Villa Park on Saturday night following a supporter's telephone vote. The award capped a memorable season for 'Jockey' who, by scoring twice against Charlton earlier in the day, had surpassed his previous season's best, achieved at Filbert Street as a teenager during the 1993-94 season, by taking his goals tally to 16 in all competitions for the campaign. Joachim signed for Villa in 1996 from the Foxes and has spent the last two seasons in and out of the side unable to hold down a regular place in the side with the likes of Yorke, Milosevic and Collymore stood in his way. But the pint-sized striker has seen a reverse in his fortunes this season, starting more games than ever previously before in his Villa career - even with the addition of Dion Dublin to the squad last November, and at the tender age of 23 is still learning. His manager is adamant that the whole-hearted striker will improve and has told Joachim that he has now set himself the standards to which he must surpass next season. Of Joachim, Gregory said: "Julian has had a good year but there is more to come from him. He has to improve certain aspects of his game but I'm sure that he will do that. I'm pleased for him because it couldn't happen to a nicer man." The Young Player of the Year award went to teenage defender Gareth Barry while JLloyd Samuel won the Youth Team Player of the Year. Villa will be sending a full squad to Ninian Park tomorrow to play Cardiff in a testimonial game for veteran striker Carl Dale. The game should give an opportunity for new signing Neil Tarrant to play with the first team for the first time and it will be the Mark Delaney's first trip back to the Welsh club since his move to Villa.
10/5 - Defence to blame!
John Gregory has blamed the defeat against Charlton on his defence.
John Gregory accused his defenders of making "basic" and "eliminatory" errors following Saturday's dramatic 4-3 home defeat at the hands of struggling Charlton Athletic. Villa lost 4-3 after clawing their way back into the game on three separate occasions, a result which leaves their InterToto Cup qualification hanging by a thread. Gregory's side now have to go to title-chasing Arsenal on the final day and achieve a victory, or, should they fail to gain a result, hope and pray that West Ham, who play Middlesbrough, fail to collect sufficient points to overtake Meanwhile, the Villa boss was also left angry with defender Steve Watson following his late dismissal which led to Charlton's dramatic winner at the death. The £4 million former Newcastle defender will be suspended for the opening match of next season after holding back substitute Martin Pringle as the Swedish striker was racing into the penalty area. Gregory fumed: "He should be out for four matches after a challenge like that. It was something he could have avoided. I will see what the referee's report says before deciding whether to take any disciplinary action." Watson was also unhappy about his red card and said: "That's the first time I've been sent off - and I intend it to be the last."
10/5 - Dublin under the knife
Dion Dublin has finally undergone surgery.
Villa striker Dion Dublin's season is finally over after the England international was booked in for long overdue hernia surgery this week. Dublin has laboured through the last three months carrying the injury but a fresh problem with his knee has given Villa the chance to call a halt to his discomfort. "We have put it off long enough," said manager John Gregory. "We felt that the knee injury has given us a chance to get him operated on. "He had the chance to take two months out of the firing line when this problem first cropped up but he didn't want to know. He was desperate to play every game he could. "We were strapping him up and sending him out every week but now he can get it sorted out and come back fully fit for next season. I cannot praise his attitude and commitment enough." Dublin will now miss the climax to Villa's season as they become part of a four-team equation which will resolve the destiny of the Premiership title. They tackle Arsenal at Highbury on Sunday while Manhcester United are facing Spurs.
8/5 - Gregory curses defeat
John Gregory wasn't pleased with today's defeat.
Villa manager John Gregory admitted that the dramatic 4-3 home defeat by Charlton had been a crushing blow to his side's hopes of qualifying for the InterToto Cup via finishing in fifth spot in the Premiership. Villa will now probably have to win at title-chasing Arsenal next Sunday if that goal is to be realised. "We need to do better than West Ham, but what you can be assured of is that today's result is good news for Manchester United because we will be going to Arsenal and really giving it our best shot next weekend," said Gregory. "We defended very poorly today. I thought we had eradicated that from our play and this performance defensively was just not good enough."
8/5 - Primadonnas no!
John Gregory is fed up with the stiff upper lips in football.
Aston Villa manager John Gregory is fed up with football's growing band of "prima donnas". Gregory has been plagued with problems all season with his top players. Now with goalkeeper Mark Bosnich's protracted move under the Bosman ruling still unresolved, Gregory has had enough. Without naming names, Gregory said: "Quite frankly I am sick to death with the prima donnas in football. It is about time football clubs looked after the people who are totally committed to the club. "I have a great bunch of players at Villa and all I say is that those players who want to come and join us will be made very welcome. If they don't, then they can go elsewhere." Bosnich's future has been in the balance for months now and Gregory, who axed the Australian for last Saturday's tie with his likely destination Manchester United, is concerned the saga - like the Stan Collymore and Paul Merson controversies - have done little to help Villa in their quest for honours. Collymore is receiving treatment for depression while Merson's continuing battle against alcoholism has not been without problems. Gregory stated that if Bosnich has a dramatic late change of mind and decides to remain with Villa "it will now be on our terms". He added: "I've tried for the last 16 months to persuade Mark to sign for Villa as have the board. Even the players have attempted to persuade him to stay. "Frankly, I do not think that he knows in his own mind what he is going to do next season. If he does he has certainly not told us. "I gather he was a little upset with some of my comments. I think I touched a raw nerve." Asked if he was concerned about the threat of possible legal action from Bosnich a few days ago, Gregory replied: "I couldn't care less. "I think we have looked after Bosnich this season. He played the first eight games of the season and was then injured for four or five months. "The club stood by him and did not cast him aside. We didn't put him in a corner and make him rot."
7/5 - Ugo warning lights
Ugo Ehiogu wants to experience the big one.
Ugo Ehiogu has warned John Gregory that they must meet his ambitions in order to keep him at Aston Villa. The England international is close to a full comeback after recovering from a horrific double fracture of an eye socket. And the 26-year old warned: "It's important to play for a club that can help realise my ambitions." "When we led the Premiership people were noticing me and there was talk about playing for England again." Doctors confirmed Ehiogu could have lost his sight after being accidentally caught in a challenge with Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer. This comes at a time when Ehiogu is being linked with a move to Spurs. As part of his rebuilding at White Hart Lane manager George Graham is understood to want a powerful centre-half to compliment Sol Campbell. Having got wind of such speculation Ehiogu commented: "If someone like George Graham thinks I'm good at my job, I take it as a compliment."
7/5 - New ticket prices
Aston Villa has announced next season's ticket prices.
Aston Villa have today announced details of next season's season-tickets and individual match prices. In addition the new prices, the purchase of Cup tickets is to be made easier for season ticket holders next season by the introduction of a direct debit/credit card payment scheme, meaning that they will no longer have to apply for their Cup tickets on an individual match basis. In announcing season ticket prices today for the 1999/2000 season, which represent a 'like for like' average increase of 14%, Director Steven Stride commented:~ "In line with the experience of other Premier League Clubs, the cost of providing a squad capable of competing for the honours which supporters and directors desire, has increased by 40% in the last twelve months. "In order to meet that additional cost it is necessary to increase prices across the board. The bulk of the increase is, however, being met by additional commercial facilities and income, but a proportion will have to be sought from season ticket and matchday sales. "Nevertheless, our prices still compare favourably with other clubs in the Premier League, although we would hope that cost increases will reduce in future years so that we are able to pass on lower price rises to our supporters and also the benefits which might accrue from increased capacity and attendances."
Details, courtesy of the official site.
3/5 - Bozzie stays away
John Gregory has revealed the truth about Bosnich's absence on Saturday.
John Gregory has revealed that Mark Bosnich did not want to play in Aston Villa's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. The Australian international is widely tipped to leave Villa Park in the summer for Old Trafford under the Bosman ruling and was effectively dropped for the game by Gregory, but only after he had consulted Bosnich. The Villa manager admitted: "I asked Mark if he would be fit to play if it had been a Friday match and he said 'No'. With everything surrounding Manchester United, I had to make a decision. It might have pleased United, I don't know, but I had to leave him out. "Mark has disappointed me all season because he has been non committal over a new contract. I've never expected him to sign, but all the uncertainty has been unfair. "If he had gone to Old Trafford with a chance of signing for United next season, he would have mixed emotions. I thought it was in the best interests of everyone concerned to leave him out."
1/5 - A mystery, sez Greg
David Beckham impressed John Gregory today with his 30-yard goal.
Villa boss John Gregory was mesmerised by David Beckham's winning free kick as Villa lost 2-1 at Old Trafford. He said: "Beckham has an outstanding talent. He confused me, let alone our defence." Gregory admitted that he had spent much of last week working on defending against Beckham's set pieces, and decided that Gareth Southgate would stand alongside his goalkeeper to counter the vicious swerve. "That worked in the first half when Gareth headed one of Beckham's free kicks out from under the bar. "In the second half, Michael Oakes said he could handle it, but clearly he couldn't! "I was talking to a United fan alongside me as Beckham stepped up to take the free kick. We didn't think we needed a wall, it was too far out. "I said to the fan, 'he'll try for the top right hand corner.' The fan said 'no - he'll go for top left.' And that's what the lad did. But what do I know about such things? "I think it is almost impossible to legislate for that sort of ability." Gregory felt slightly hard done by that Villa had not managed to salvage a point after Oakes had saved a Denis Irwin penalty after Beckham's strike. "We felt we deserved something from the game, and when Oakes saved Irwin's penalty I really thought we would get a result," said Gregory. "We had recovered from the first 20 minutes when we had looked like autograph hunters out there admiring our opponents and the stadium. "When we got a grip, we looked worth a point. I felt we could do it right up to the final whistle. But they hung on and look favourites for the title now - they're certainly my bet." David Beckham struck another stunning free-kick special to send Manchester United back to the top of the Premiership and leave Alex Ferguson claiming: "He's unstoppable." The England midfielder, 24 tomorrow, struck a second-half cracker to clinch a 2-1 win over Aston Villa. Julian Joachim had cancelled out a Steve Watson own-goal when Beckham struck with a 30-yard free-kick that gave Villa keeper Michael Oakes no chance two minutes into the second half. "It was a wonderful goal," crowed Ferguson afterwards, "and even if they had put a defensive wall up, I can't see how they would have stopped it. "He has a marvellous talent with free kicks, and he still practices them every week. In fact, he was working on them after training on Friday."
1/5 - Hendrie out for the season
Lee Hendrie won't see any footie action before mid summer.
Lee Hendrie will miss Aston Villa's last two games of the season because of his ankle injury. Hendrie, who made his England debut against the Czech Republic earlier this season, picked up the injury against Liverpool on April 17 and had been hoping to be available for the final game of the season at Arsenal. But Hendrie is now bidding to be back to full fitness in time for Villa's possible involvement in the InterToto Cup in July. "I thought that I had broken it at first as I had never been in pain like that before," said the 21-year-old midfielder.