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Villians chief O’Neill admits to heated Berger row

ASTON VILLA manager Martin O’Neill has confirmed Patrik Berger has been disciplined for "a breach of club rules" after he was understood to have been reluctant to play in a recent reserves match.

The midfielder has been allowed to join Stoke on loan with O’Neill adamant the former Liverpool player would not play for Villa for "the foreseeable future".

The 33-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, may have reached a premature end to his stay at midlands club, for whom he has made only a minimal contribution since joining on a free transfer from Portsmouth in the summer of 2005.

O’Neill was upset when Berger was apparently unwilling to play for the second team against Tottenham at Stevenage Borough’s ground on Monday – a game the Villa boss attended.

O’Neill confirmed: "Patrik Berger was disciplined early last week for a breach of club rules and a couple of days later Tony Pulis called and asked if Patrik would be available to go on loan.

"I wouldn’t have been using Patrik, because of the breach of discipline, in the foreseeable future, certainly in the short term, so I allowed him to go.

"Stoke instigated the loan. I disciplined Patrik. The opportunity Stoke initiated made me think ‘why not, let him go on loan’."

Berger has been restricted to a handful of first team appearances for Villa because of various injury problems.

He made his first appearance for Stoke as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 win over West Brom in the Coca Cola Championship.

Meanwhile, O’Neill will decide in the next 24 hours whether to recall Lee Hendrie from a loan spell with Stoke.

Hendrie’s initial two-month spell is due to end on December 2, although O’Neill has the option to extend it for a third month if Stoke agree.

He said: "I am monitoring Lee’s situation every single day. We’ve got a squad here I was happy to go with against Middlesbrough on Saturday and we will look again at Lee’s situation early next week."

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen will have a scan today to determine the extent of the knee injury he suffered in a collision with Boro defender Emanuel Pogatetz.

The Danish international left Villa Park on crutches and is a doubt for Wednesday’s home clash with Manchester City.

Meanwhile Livorno’s highly-rated goalkeeper Marco Amelia has claimed Liverpool are among a host of clubs trying to acquire his services.

"There are several English clubs interested in me, especially Liverpool," Amelia said yesterday.

"I have agreed with (club owner Aldo) Spinelli to renew my contract but we have postponed the meeting until the new year."

The 24-year-old is also a target of AC Milan, who are looking for a replacement for injured goalkeeper Nelson Dida and are willing to pay a reported £6million for Amelia.