Please stay Bozzie plea (22 Mar)

Aston Villa manager John Gregory is more optimistic that goalkeeper Mark Bosnich will sign a new one year contract - which would buy him time to find a long term successor to the Australian star.

Gregory has constantly claimed that he is resigned to losing Bosnich this summer, when he could quit the Midlands club on a free transfer under the Bosman Ruling. But now the Villa chief admits he has been given a ray of hope that the former Manchester United player, who has just recovered from a shoulder injury, might sign up for at least one more season.

Gregory said: ``We would like him to stay. The boys want him to stay and the fact he has not yet signed for any European club, as he is entitled, gives us a bit of hope that he might opt to stay - even if it is short term. ``If the worst scenario was that he would only sign a one year contract then we would take that.

It would buy us a bit of time - and there are other goalkeepers out of contract the summer after next! ``I don't think we would be held to ransom over his demands. I wouldn't say we would splash out but we would certainly be prepared to negotiate. ``The alternative is to have to buy a new 'keeper, which could cost a considerable amount of money to get the best - and I've got what I consider to be one of the best in Europe in Mark.

``He's had a lay-off and has been getting used to the pace of the game again, but his performances against Derby and Tottenham showed signs of him being back to his old self. ``It's great to have him around the place again. We don't want to let him go - and I just hope he sees sense and stays with Villa.''

Martin Sivorn © 1999.E-Mail Me