Villa star signs on

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Aston Villa midfielder Gavin McCann has signed a new three-year contract.

The 27-year-old arrived at Villa Park from Sunderland two summers ago in a double deal that also saw Thomas Sorensen join The Midlanders.

McCann was troubled by a knee complaint last term that restricted him to just 23 appearances - indeed, he has not played for Villa since January.

However, with just one season remaining on his contract, Villa boss David O'Leary has been eager to tie him down to a new deal and insists his value to the club is hugely underestimated.

"Gavin is the kind of unsung hero that is sometimes only appreciated by the players," O'Leary stated recently.

"You sometimes don't realise what he contributes until he is missing from the team.

"Last season he had big problems with his knee but tried to carry on with virtually one leg until it got too bad for him to continue."

McCann's new deal also contains a clause to extend it for a further season, but with the midfielder now secured until at least 2008, O'Leary will turn his attention to Sorensen.

The Villains chief has also spoken of his desire to extend the custodian's contract and will be confident of the Danish international following in McCann's footsteps.