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Aston Villa lead chase for in-demand Aiden McGeady

Spartak Moscow’s chances of bringing Aiden McGeady to Russia look dead in the water after the Republic of Ireland international admitted that the move would not appeal to him for either personal or football reasons.

The Russians have been persistent in their pursuit of the 24-year-old and have upped a bid of £8.3 million to a figure in the region of £9.5 million

However, the winger is lukewarm on the prospect.

“I know all about the interest from Russia,” said McGeady over the weekend.

“Spartak are a famous club and I've heard a lot about them but I don't see myself signing for them.

“Firstly, I am not keen on moving to Russia. To convince me otherwise would take an enormous effort.

“There are family reasons that would keep me here. But let's not forget the football side of things. I doubt that a move to Russia would make me a better footballer.”

McGeady would prefer a move to the English Premier League, although his situation is complicated by the impasse in James Milner's situation at Aston Villa.

If he moves to Manchester City, Villa would have the funds to reunite McGeady with Martin O'Neill.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon yesterday admitted that McGeady might have played his last game for Celtic as he revealed the winger would not start Wednesday's crucial Champions League clash with Braga.

For the second time in five days, McGeady was missing from the Hoops squad 24 hours after manager Lennon had been certain the winger would be available to play.

On both occasions — last Wednesday's third qualifying round first leg in Portugal and yesterday's Emirates Cup clash with Arsenal — the 24-year-old had been declared injured.

After admitting it was even possible McGeady would not play for the club again, Lennon said: “He complained of a calf injury this morning, so we left him out.

“I don't know what's going to happen this week — we'll have to wait and see. As regards Wednesday, I don't think I could possibly start him. At best, he'd probably be a substitute.”

McGeady was omitted from the squad for the first leg with a back problem.

Anticipating conspiracy theories about his absence yesterday, Lennon said: “Look, Aiden is not one of these guys to make things up — I'm being genuine with that.

“He's in a difficult situation at the minute. I've been there myself. Towards the end of my time at Leicester City, there was some interest from Celtic. Your head's all

over the place and I think he's just in that place at the minute.

“He doesn't fake injuries; he wants to play football; he's always wanted to play football. So I have to take his word for this one.”

Yesterday's game was attended by Finland boss Stuart Baxter, who Celtic had long been pursuing as a mentor for managerial rookie Lennon.

Confirming Baxter's input on an advisory basis, Lennon said: “He will be an advisor when I need him, if and when I do need him.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal chief Arsene Wenger has insisted he would have no problem with Fabio Capello calling Jack Wilshere into the England squad — despite being unable to guarantee the youngster a place in his Arsenal side this season.

Wilshere yesterday demonstrated the talent that has seen him mentioned as one of the young players Capello could turn to following England's dismal World Cup displays over the summer.

The 18-year-old was named man of the match as hosts Arsenal beat Celtic 3-2 to win the Emirates Cup for the third time in its four-year history.

Wenger was delighted with Wilshere's performance and also made a strong case for the Football Association to snap up fellow midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, who is eligible for both England and Ghana.

He said: “At the end of the day, when you're a good football player, you have to deal with that.

“Theo Walcott was at the World Cup at 17 years of age; he had not played one game in the Premier League, and it didn't kill him.

“To play at the top level, you have to deal with these kinds of situations.”

Winger Theo Walcott laid on Arsenal's opener for Carlos Vela after just three minutes before goals by Bacary Sagna and Samir Nasri put the hosts on cruise control.

They were almost made to pay when Daryl Murphy and Ki Sung-Yeung netted for Celtic — after Georgios Samaras had earlier missed a penalty.

Arsenal: Almunia; Sagna (Eboue 62), Djourou, Vermaelen (Koscielny 73), G Clichy (Gibbs 62); Frimpong, Wilshere; Walcott, Rosicky (Nasri, 46), Vela (Arshavin 62); Emmanuel-Thomas (Chamakh, 46). Substitutes not used: Mannone, Randall, Nordtveit, Hoyte, Yennaris.

Celtic: Zaluska (Cervi, 46); Hinkel (Samaras, 61), Rogne, Hooiveld, Mulgrew (Twardzik, 66); Maloney, Juarez, Crosas (Du-Ri, 61); S-Y Ki, Murphy (Hooper, 86) Rasmussen (Fortune 61).

Referee: A Marriner (England).

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