Friday media watch [15.08.14 PM]: Stoke focus
Express and Star: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert today questioned whether loyalty exists in football when questioned over captain Ron Vlaar's future. The Holland centre-back, who impressed at this summer's World Cup, has been linked with various clubs including Villa's Premier League rivals Southampton. Saints boss Ronald Koeman, his compatriot, has been quoted by Dutch media as saying of the 29-year-old that he would "really like to have him at Southampton". Vlaar has a year left on his Villa deal. Asked about the player signing a new contract, Lambert said: "To be fair to Ron, he has not come to us or anything."
Daily Star: Villa's summer signings Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos, Kieran Richardson and Aly Cissokho could all make their competitive debuts for Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday. Villa boss Paul Lambert will check the condition of both Cole (thigh) and World Cup semi-finalist Ron Vlaar ahead of the match but is optimistic the pair will be able to feature, while long-term absentee Jores Okore is in contention for his first competitive appearance since September having recovered from a serious knee problem.
Express and Star: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will check on the condition of both Ron Vlaar and midfielder Joe Cole ahead of tomorrow's trip to Stoke. Cole has been struggling with a thigh injury while Vlaar is still not up to match fitness following his exploits with Holland in the World Cup. Lambert has also reported he could have strikers Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak available in "a few weeks" as they step up their rehabilitation from long-term injuries. Belgium international Benteke has been sidelined since April, when he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in training with Villa that ruled him out of the World Cup and which the club said would require a minimum of six months' recovery time. Kozak sustained his injury in training with Villa as well, the Czech Republic frontman breaking his leg in January.
Birmingham Mail: Aston Villa supporters joined forces with fellow football fans to protest against rising football costs in a march on the Premier League headquarters in London. Villa fans were among a 500-strong group who took part in the Football Supporters Federation march for 'Affordable Football' on Thursday. Supporters from My Old Man Said website and the Brigada 1874 braved rain in the capital to fly the flag for Villa during the event. A delegation of supporters met with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore to voice their concerns over the spiralling cost of watching football in this country.
ClubCall: Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos, Kieran Richardson and Aly Cissokho are set to make their league debuts Aston Villa at Stoke on Saturday. Villa boss Paul Lambert will check the condition of both Cole and World Cup semi-finalist Ron Vlaar ahead of the match but is optimistic the pair will be able to feature following respective thigh and general fitness issues. Long-term absentee Jores Okore is in contention for his first competitive appearance since September having recovered from a serious knee problem.
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BBC Sport: Brentford have signed Jose Peleteiro Ramallo, known as Jota, from Celta Vigo for an undisclosed fee and Jon Toral on a year-long loan from Arsenal. Both are Spanish attacking midfielders and Jota, 23, has signed a three-year contract at Griffin Park. Toral, 19, was with Barcelona before joining Arsenal in 2011.
Sky Sports News: Tony Pulis' shock departure from Crystal Palace was down to frustration at the club's inactivity in the transfer market, writes Sky Sports News HQ's Jim White. Pulis, who led the side to 11th place in the Premier League last season, made his feelings known to co-chairman Steve Parish on Wednesday before leaving Selhurst Park less than 24 hours later. The former Stoke boss, who took over Palace when they were rock-bottom last November, was voted Premier League Manager of the Year after guiding them to within touching distance of the top-10.Parish revealed Pulis was unhappy at the club's failure to deliver his main targets, but insisted the pair 'parted on good terms'.
BBC Sport: Manager Jose Mourinho believes that his summer signings makes Chelsea contenders for the league title. The Blues manager frequently played down his side's chances in the 2013-14 race title race, saying they were a "little horse". Midfielder Cesc Fabregas and striker Diego Costa were brought in this summer for about £60m, while Didier Drogba returned to the club he left in 2011. "We have bought some key players and we believe," said Mourinho.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa