Friday media watch [10.01.14 PM]: Ireland future in focus
Express and Star: Paul Merson today backed Paul Lambert's transfer U-turn and insisted Villa need experience to survive. The former claret and blue midfielder reckons the team face a relegation fight without key additions.
Sky Sports: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he is a fan of Wes Hoolahan but has refused to admit he is interested in signing the Norwich midfielder. Villa have been linked with a move for the Republic of Ireland midfielder and reports have suggested Hoolahan is also keen on a move.
Sky Sports: Stoke manager Mark Hughes has revealed the club will try and make Stephen Ireland's loan move from Aston Villa permanent this month to free up space for another potential loan signing. Premier League clubs are only allowed two loan signings from teams in the same division and Stoke have already brought in winger Oussama Assaidi from Liverpool.
BT Sport: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has spoken of his admiration for Wes Hoolahan - but stressed the midfielder is Norwich's player. Reports over the last few days have suggested Villa are interested in signing Hoolahan and that the Republic of Ireland international is keen on a move.
ClubCall: Aston Villa will assess the condition of defenders Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker ahead of Monday's home clash with Arsenal. Both club captain Vlaar and Baker sat out last weekend's FA Cup third-round loss to Sheffield United with calf and hamstring problems respectively.
ClubCall: Stoke manager Mark Hughes is hopeful of turning Stephen Ireland's loan move into a permanent deal this month. Ireland has returned to something like his best form since arriving at the Britannia Stadium on a season-long deal from Aston Villa, and has scored three times in 15 appearances for the Potters.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Tottenham and England striker Jermain Defoe has agreed to join Major League Soccer side Toronto FC for £6m. The 31-year-old will join the Canadian side on 28 February and will be eligible to play for Spurs until then.
Sky Sports: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has refused to be drawn on reports of renewed interest in Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. The Blues had two bids for Rooney rejected in the summer and there has been speculation that Mourinho is ready to pounce for the England international if United fail to qualify for the Champions League at the end of the season.
BBC Sport: Keith Downing hopes the appointment of new head coach Pepe Mel will end an "unsettling" period at West Brom. Assistant head coach Downing has been in charge since Steve Clarke was sacked in December, with former Real Betis coach Mel, 50, due to arrive next week.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.
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