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McLaren set for Villa hotseat?

Aston Villa's billionaire owner Randy Lerner is due in Britain to settle the pressing issue of a successor to Gerard Houillier as Villa manager, with Steve McLaren most likely to be taking the reins.

The club want a manager with a proven track-record in the Premier League, and ideally want the new manager in place by the end of next week, to avoid the kind of complications that Martin O'Neil's departure, five days before the start of the new season, caused.

Carlo Ancelotti would have been favourite, but the ousted Chelsea man has decided to take a twelve-month sabbatical leave from the game. Lerner was unimpressed by the manner of Mark Hughes' exit from Fulham, and another candidate, Martin Jol, has already replaced him at Craven Cottage.

McLaren endured a dismal spell with England, but has since repaired his reputation somewhat after he guided FC Twente to their first league title in the Dutch club's history. However, a subsequent spell in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg ended with him getting the sack in February, and the fifty-year-old last worked in the Premier League five years ago with Middlesborough.

But whoever gets the vacant Villa post will have to work without Ashley Young – the England winger seems set for Manchester United in a 16 million move.

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