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Ireland on verge of Villa transfer

STEPHEN Ireland's move to Aston Villa is set to be completed by tomorrow as he leaves Manchester City to make way for £20m signing James Milner.

Ireland's move to the troubled Midlands club will be part of the deal that will see England midfielder Milner finally seal his switch to Eastlands.

But Villa will today meet representatives of winger Ashley Young in a bid to convince him to stay at Villa Park in the wake of interest from Tottenham.

Young has two years left of his current deal and is one of Villa's highest earners with a salary of more than £60,000 a week.

He impressed when setting up both goals for skipper Steven Gerrard in England's 2-1 win over Hungary at Wembley last night.

Villa want Young to sign a long-term deal, but that would only happen with a sizeable wage increase and assurances over the future ambitions.

Club owner Randy Lerner has also made it clear he wants to restore the club to an even financial keel.

Tottenham would probably have to match the £20m-plus deal Villa have agreed with City for Milner to have a chance of landing Young.

Lerner conceded that sorting out the Milner transfer was part of his "immediate focus" at the Birmingham-based club.

The deal will represent a handsome profit for Villa, who signed Milner for a club record £12m from Newcastle United two years ago.

But it was Lerner's decision not to make all the funds available to Martin O'Neill from the Milner transfer for new players, which led to the Northern Irish manager quitting the club on Monday.

The American businessman revealed differences in opinion on how to take the club forward led to O'Neill walking out after four years at the helm.

Lerner, in a statement, said: "Having had some time to reflect on Martin leaving, I can say that our most immediate focus is supporting (caretaker boss) Kevin MacDonald and resolving the situation with Manchester City and James Milner.

"As for explaining why Martin left, I can say only that we no longer shared a common view as to how to move forward."

Sven-Goran Eriksson has been installed as the new favourite with the bookmakers to become manager, although there has been no contact between the Swede and Villa.