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The Villa boss believes the French midfielder has the class to fill the boots of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, and expects other fringe players to step up as well

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is confident Wigan Athletic's Charles N’Zogbia will be a success at Villa Park.

Despite Latics chairman Dave Whelan insisting last week that the player will not be allowed to leave for less than £10 million, the two clubs agreed a £9.5m fee for the winger on Monday.

After playing a key role in Wigan’s survival in the Premier League last year, McLeish says the Frenchman has the quality to replace star midfielders Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.

McLeish told reporters: "We believe everything else is just about there [on the N'Zogbia deal].

"Charles will be a great addition to the squad. He's an explosive player and he gives us an extra bit of quality that replaces one or two of the guys who have left the club.

"You've seen his exploits last season - especially at the tail-end of the campaign when he scored five or six goals in the last few games which were extremely important for Wigan to stay in the league.

"He's an explosive type of player who can play in positions across the front. We needed to replace Downing with similar quality. He's [N'Zogbia] broken into the French national team, scored on their tour in the summer."

The Scot is also looking to get the best out of players who were frozen out of the first-team picture under Gerard Houllier last season, including Stephen Ireland and Stephen Warnock.

"There's also a lot of talent [at Villa]. We will look for one or two players who have been a little bit dormant, in whom Villa have made a massive investment," he said.

"A couple of years ago, he [Ireland] looked an amazing player, he was making runs from midfield, getting in the box, scoring goals, picking out the right passes. Every ball he touched turned to goals.

"Now, all of sudden, his game hasn't gone the way you'd expect.

"Since [McLeish's] coming into Aston Villa, the player has excelled in training. He's looked, really, as if he's making those piercing runs in the practice matches, and I'm looking forward to Stephen Ireland being fully fit and competing for a whole season.

"Again, as a manager, you have to try and get the best you can out of every individual. That's what I'll do.

"Stephen Warnock, too, has to resurrect his career. He's played for England - what do you have to do to do that?

"He's pushing himself now, though, and his enthusiasm is there. The fitness guys have actually had to try and rein him in."

After losing the likes of Young, Downing and Brad Friedel this summer, McLeish is tipping his younger players to step up.


"There are a lot of young players - players who have had to make their mark," said McLeish. "They have the potential, but can they make a big impact on a league as tough as this one?

"That is where the experienced players come in. You need that strong nucleus, that strong spine through the team that can bolster the side and allow the introduction of the young players.

"We finished ninth last season. Can we better that? It would be extremely difficult given every team has been gearing up, Sunderland have signed 10 players and Stoke are linked with many players at extortionate transfer fees.

"The league will be more competitive than ever. Last year was an amazing campaign. Who's to say the competition will be better next season?

"We've added a couple of players who can enhance the qualities of the squad and can help us get off to a good start."

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