O'Neill eager to tie Mellberg to new deal

September 28, 2007

Martin O'Neill has revealed his desire for Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg to sign a new contract after hailing his form as a makeshift right-back.

O'Neill wants the Swedish international, currently in the last year of his existing deal, to put pen to paper before he is able to talk to foreign clubs in January.

Mellberg, who has been at Villa for six years, has switched from centre-back after the departure of Aaron Hughes to Fulham and the retirement of Mark Delaney.

O'Neill said: 'The one contract I would like to get sorted out is Olof Mellberg.

'We are in the throes of doing that. Nothing has been agreed but we are in communication with his agent.

'Olof is playing out of position, although he has played there for his country before, and I am very pleased. He gives us a wee bit more solidity.'

Mellberg has insisted he has put his contract on the back burner with his focus on how matters are developing on the pitch for Villa.

O'Neill has recruited Zat Knight and Curtis Davies but has not ruled out the possibility of Mellberg again playing at the heart of the defence which is his preferred position.

He said: 'Olof playing at centre-half again is a distinct possibility but he has done very well and has shown a bit of versatility which is good.'