Harewood attracting interest

O'Neill keen to retain striker's services

By Chris Burton.   Last Updated: 25/01/08 2:55pm

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Harewood: Wanted man

Harewood: Wanted man

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Martin O'Neill has admitted that a number of clubs have expressed an interest in Marlon Harewood.

The former Nottingham Forest and West Ham striker struggled initially to make an impact at Aston Villa following his summer switch from Upton Park, but despite limited opportunities he has still managed to bag three goals in just 10 appearances this season.

The most recent of those strikes came during the 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Monday and his performances have started to attract attention from elsewhere.

Harewood could be set to be handed a first international call-up by Barbados at the age of 27, while Villa boss O'Neill has confirmed that enquiries have been made about the player's availability from other clubs keen on obtaining his services.

Fight for place

"Obviously the players here have been keeping him out of the side because they have done well. They have been quality," O'Neill said.

"But that performance on Monday night will have given Marlon great confidence.

"I've had a host of interest in him but I've never had any intention of taking advantage of that. I want him here with us.

"He has said he wants to play here and wants to fight for his chance here."

Exceptionally difficult

O'Neill is understandably keen to hang onto his players as he is currently working with the smallest squad in the Premier League, and despite leading the club to the fringes of the UEFA Champions League places, he feels that the club is not quite ready to be challenging for the top four.

"We are eventually trying to get there, which is why we are here," he said

"It is not about accepting mediocrity but it does take a bit of time.

"We have done really well so far this season and if major players stay injury-free, we should be able to keep the momentum going.

"But it will be exceptionally difficult this year to break in the top four."

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