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McLeish says Petrov's leukemia is at an early stage

The Villa boss is sad to hear his captain diagnosed with the condition but thinks it could act as a springboard for a surprise victory over Chelsea on Saturday.

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish says that Stiliyan Petrov’s leukemia is at an early stage, and the player is staying typically defiant in the face of adversity.

The Villa captain, who had a fever after last weekend’s defeat at Arsenal, was told he had developed the illness at lunchtime today and is currently in London for treatment. The news has left McLeish in shock, but he is hopeful the Bulgarian international can make a full recovery.

"We certainly think it's in the early stages and 'Stan' will get the best medical attention possible," he told Sky Sports News. "I spoke to him about half an hour ago. He's typical Stan, defiant, but I think obviously he's concerned about how it's affected his loved ones."

The manager is hoping, however, that the news could act as a springboard for the midlands side, which finds itself in the bottom half of the Premier League table and with a tough home fixture against Chelsea this weekend.

“The players will be gutted but hopefully galvanised to win this game for their captain tomorrow," he added to the European news outlet. “Stiliyan I'm sure he will be rooting for the lads tomorrow and sending some of the vibes for these boys to be inspirational for this game against Chelsea."

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McLeish admitted that he was yet to speak to his players about the midfielder’s situation but knew they would be sending their messages of support.

“I know that some of the players are already texting each other and saying that kind of thing [this will be for Stan] to each other and I'm sure they'll be no doubt about that at all,” he said.