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Okore urges Villa to retain Benteke

Published 31/05/2015

Alan Hutton, left, believes Aston Villa are progressing
Alan Hutton, left, believes Aston Villa are progressing

Jores Okore admitted Aston Villa are set for a summer of change as he urged the club to do what is necessary to keep Christian Benteke.

The defender knows Villa must make improvements before next season after their humbling 4-0 thumping by Arsenal in Saturday's FA Cup final.

Villa were second best at Wembley with Benteke's threat nullified by the Gunners.

He has been linked with a move to Liverpool with boss Tim Sherwood revealing the striker has a substantial release fee clause in his contract, but Okore hopes Villa's summer business can convince him to stay.

"Hopefully we can keep Christian here, it's in all of our best interests and we can do what's necessary to keep him happy and in the squad," said the defender.

"He is a big threat for us and he is a good player.

"Christian is still under contract so it looks like he is going to stay here.

"If the club sells him then they will find someone else to replace him and then we will work from there. We still have a lot to do and a lot to learn.

"We are still a young team so I think we can deliver. You have seen some good games from us against some top teams and if we can get more stable at that level we can go really far."

Villa are set for a summer overhaul under Sherwood with the manager already confirming he has told some players they can go.

The Villa careers of Andi Weimann, Matt Lowton and Aly Cissokho are in doubt after they were left out of Saturday's squad while Antonio Luna and Nicklas Helenius, who were loaned out last year, are expected to leave.

And Okore is eager to discover Sherwood's plans and believes the boss can make the improvements to end their battles against relegation.

"It's going to be exciting to see what it's going to look like next year," he said, with Villa finishing 17th in the Barclays Premier League this season.

"Hopefully we can get out of this relegation battle we have been in for the last couple of years and be a mid-table team and develop from there.

"He (Sherwood) came in and he changed a lot of things quickly and did well. We showed some great promise in a couple of games against Manchester City and West Brom and in a couple we did really well.

"Hopefully there are a lot of things we can implement in our game and be more stable next year.

"I hope he can make good investments and help the team succeed. I won't be happy if we're struggling and play like this again. Hopefully we can continue up the table."

And Alan Hutton has also moved to ease the disappointment following Villa's Wembley woe where Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud all scored.

"We have definitely made progress, there is no point in being down about it, we have to be positive," said the Scotland international.

"We stayed up, which was our main aim, and to get to the FA Cup final was an achievement in itself.

"You cannot take being down about losing at Wembley into next season. I am sure the manager is going to strengthen the squad and there will be good competition for places, so we can have a good run at it."

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