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Aston Villa turn to Martinez

Aston Villa have turned their focus to Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martinez to fill the team's managerial void after Gerard Houillier's departure.

Wigan's chairman, David Whelan, has confirmed the approach, but is confident that the Spaniard will reject Villa's advances, after steering Wigan to Premier League survival on the last day of the season.

'Aston Villa have acted above board and in a totally professional manner,' Whelan said. 'They wrote to me asking for permission to speak to Roberto. He was on holiday at the time and I granted Villa permission. He arrived back yesterday and I presume he has spoken to Villa. I have made it clear to him I will be extending his contract. I have never let him down on anything and he has never let me down. I know I can never say never in football, but I would be very surprised if he is Aston Villa's new manager.'

Meanwhile, news of Steve McLaren's candidacy was met with a hostile response from Villa supporters, and the former England boss has now been told that he won't be required for interview. Villa chairman Randy Lerner is also thought to have sounded out the former Liverpool and Internazionale manager Rafa Benitez, as the club seek to appoint a manager with Premier League experience.

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