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Martin O'Neill is set to take his spending at Celtic to £8.5 million after agreeing a fee of £2.5 million with Aston Villa for midfielder Alan Thompson.
The 26-year-old former Newcastle and Bolton player has been told he can leave Villa Park by manager John Gregory.

Now O'Neill has matched Gregory's valuation of a player once released on a free transfer by Kevin Keegan.

Thompson is keen on the move which he sees as the ideal opportunity to revive his flagging international prospects. "They get 62,000 sell-out crowds every week and it is flattering to be associated with that kind of club," said Thompson. "But, more than that, Martin O'Neill seems to be a fantastic boss.

"I know players at Leicester who talk very highly of him and it is clear from the purchase of Chris Sutton that he is ambitious and wants to pip Rangers to a few titles."

Thompson moved to Villa from Bolton two years ago in a £4 million deal, but he has fallen out of the reckoning at Villa, and he decided it was time to move on when he was omitted from the squad for the FA Cup Final in May.

"The FA Cup Final was the final straw and the manager probably knows it," he said. "I knew with seven games to go last season that I was playing for my future.

"Now the manager has told me that I can go but the move has to be right for me and my family."

Thompson, a natural left-footer, is still hopeful of attracting the attention of England manager Keegan, but at 26 he knows that his career must get back on track quickly if he is to achieve his dream of international honours.

"There is always a lot of attention on younger ones coming up behind me," he said. "I am 26 now so I don't know if England has passed me by. But the pressure is on me to go out there and get some good performances under my belt."
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