Villa lining up Downing replacement already?

Stewart Downing may still be an Aston Villa player at the moment, but the club are already searching for his replacement according to reports today.

The England international is expected to hand in a transfer request this week to force through a move to Liverpool. This follows the sale of Ashley Young to Manchester United, so a winger is certainly a priority for new boss Alex McLeish.

Top of their list is thought to be Stoke City’s Matthew Etherington. The man who helped the Potters to an FA Cup final last season has been a consistent performer in the Premier League in of late and can certainly cause full-backs plenty of problems.

The 29-year-old isn’t the only man being talked about though. There are rumours of a move for Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia, Matt Jarvis of Wolves and Dutch winger Wesley Verhoek as McLeish looks to bolster his midfield.

Perhaps the most interesting addition to this list of Villa rumours is a return to the club for Manchester City’s James Milner.

The England midfielder hasn’t been a regular starter under Roberto Mancini and could be interested in a return to Villa Park to boost his chances of being heavily involved in Euro 2012 next summer.

Of these targets, there is no reason why the club won’t be targeting more than one. If Downing follows Young out of the door, there is two significant players that need replacing.

Villa fans will be watching on with baited breath, that’s for sure. They will be concerned with the players leaving the club and will be hopeful that new boss McLeish can impress them with his transfer dealings.

Of the five players linked, Milner and Etherington would represent good business for the club with N’Zogbia not far behind. Then there is Jarvis for if they want to go down the younger player route.

Overall there are plenty of options for McLeish as he looks to make things happen before a depleted squad returns to pre-season training next month.

Pete is a creature of the night, regularly crawling the internet for snippets of any football news info. He's also a Tottenaham fan.