Monday, 7 March 2011

Villa’s Barry Bannan loaned to Leeds

Villa have allowed midfielder Barry Bannan to join Championship side Leeds on loan until the end of the season.

The Scotland international has found his first-team opportunities recently and has not started a Premier League match since the 1-1 draw with Birmingham on January 16.

Manager Gerard Houllier has brought in Jean Makoun and Michael Bradley during the January transfer window while the return to fitness of Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker and Fabian Delph has increased competition for places.

Houllier did state last month that he did not intend to let any of his midfielders out on loan but, with a wealth of options in the centre, he now feels Bannan will benefit from regular action rather than sporadic appearances from the bench.

The deal will be until May 7 initially but there is an option to extend it further should Leeds reach the Championship play-offs.

It will be the 21-year-old’s third loan spell of his career after previous stints at Derby and Blackpool and the Scot will see one familiar face at Elland Road, as he joins Villa team-mate Eric Lichaj who moved to Leeds on an initial one-month deal on February 9.

Leeds boss Simon Grayson admitted there had been several clubs interested in signing Bannan and believes he will be an excellent addition to their squad.

He said: “Barry is a player we have been tracking for a while.

“Circumstances have now changed where Villa are now in a position to let him join us and I’d like to thank them for agreeing to the move.

“He’s had the opportunity to go to nearly every other team in the Championship so for him to come here makes it all the more pleasing.

“He is used to this division and he played a major part in Blackpool’s run to get promoted last season so he has experience and he fits the bill perfectly for us.”

Grayson is also hopeful of increasing Lichaj’s stay until the end of the campaign, with the defender having impressed in his five games for the club.

But, with Villa having suffered a spate of defensive injuries, Houllier will assess his casualty list before he makes a final decision.

However, the form of Kyle Walker at right-back has done much to convince the manager that the American should remain at the Yorkshire club.

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