Alpay returns to training

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Alpay has returned to training with his Aston Villa team-mates today for the first time since his much-publicised spat with David Beckham.

But there was no showdown meeting with Villans manager David O'Leary over whether he has a future with the Midlands club.

O'Leary and Alpay exchanged pleasantries in a brief informal chat before the Turkish international joined in with his team-mates at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training complex.

It now remains to be seen whether O'Leary will bring Alpay back into his plans for Villa's next match at home to Everton on Saturday.

The 30-year-old is not part of the Villa reserve team squad for their encounter with Middlesbrough on Tuesday and it is unlikely he will dislodge either Olof Mellberg or Ronny Johnsen at the heart of the defence.

Hertha Berlin are rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services and Alpay is free to talk to foreign clubs in the January transfer window and can leave on a free transfer when his contract expires next summer.

Alpay caused a storm of controversy when he goaded Beckham after the England captain missed a penalty in the Euro 2004 qualifier in Istanbul and then was involved in another confrontation with the Real Madrid star in the players' tunnel at half-time.

Alpay is already unpopular with many of the club's supporters and was booed during the recent home game with Charlton.

O'Leary's response was to give Alpay compassionate leave with his family and he was not considered for selection for the goalless derby with Birmingham at St Andrews last Sunday.