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Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 16:24 UK

O'Neill to persuade Barry to stay

Gareth Barry
Persuading Gareth Barry to stay is Martin O'Neill's biggest challenge

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has stressed his desire to keep skipper Gareth Barry at the club next season.

The England midfielder is a transfer target for Liverpool who made a bid for the 27-year old last week.

"Obviously trying to keep Gareth Barry at the football club will be the most important thing we're trying to do," O'Neill told the club's website.

"A player of Gareth's undoubted quality and ability would take some replacing. I really want to keep progress going."

Barry has thrived under O'Neill, who handed him the captain's armband when he took over as manager in the summer of 2006. The Villa boss still sees him as a key part of his plans.

"We want to try and step forward again and we're looking to add that extra quality to the quality we have," said O'Neill. "We definitely need more.

"Being back in the Premier League and having had two seasons to look at it, I believe that for us now to compete we have to add to what we've got."

Next season could also include European commitments, with Villa still in the running for a place in either the UEFA or Intertoto Cup going into the final game of the season at West Ham on Sunday.

see also
Berger is shown door by O'Neill
06 May 08 |  Aston Villa
Villa reveal Liverpool Barry bid
02 May 08 |  Aston Villa
Villa players want Barry to stay
21 Apr 08 |  Aston Villa
Barry to assess future at Villa
19 Apr 08 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill 'desperate' to keep Barry
18 Apr 08 |  Aston Villa

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