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VILLA NEWS: Gary stays put for now says boss.

GARY Cahill is at the centre of a tug-of-war between a string of Championship clubs.

But Martin O'Neill is concerned about the club's congested fixture list and cannot yet let him out.

A number of clubs have enquired about taking the prodigiously talented 20-year-old centre-back on loan after he recovered from a summer knee operation.

Cahill was on the bench against Blackburn last weekend and has Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen and Liam Ridgewell ahead of him in the pecking order.

But O'Neill can see a glut of fixtures ahead and is concerned about leaving his already thin squad barer still.

O'Neill said: "Gary is pushing in the sense that he is now back and is injury-free.

"Several clubs asked about taking him on loan, and while again it is one of the those where you feel it would be beneficial, anything can happen like that illness to Liam Ridgewell where Laursen stepped in and Gary got onto the bench.

"Cahill is raring to go now and that's encouraging."

Cahill picked up his injury on Villa's pre-season tour of Holland in the 2-2 draw with FC Groningen on August 11.

But he has already done enough in the reserves to catch O'Neill's eye.

"I've hardly seen him play," he conceded. "The injury occurred in the second game of the tour, the midweek game in Holland.

"But I have been very impressed with his attitude and he is dead keen about pushing himself along now."

Lee Hendrie has already benefited from a loan move to Stoke City and other players, likely to include Eric Djemba-Djemba,

could follow suit. O'Neill added: "While my overall view about sending players out on loan is very positive, at the same time I am a bit concerned about anything happening with the hectic programme coming up.

"My concern is that if you send somebody away now for a month and then you pick up another injury then you are in trouble.

"So I'm torn. I know Gary would love to go out to play for a cause now this month if we weren't using him but I can't guarantee that that (picking up an injury) won't happen."

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 11, 2006
Words:364
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