Aston Villa 1 Fiorentina 0: O'Neill goes the distance for Wheater
Martin O'Neill was being linked with an £8million swoop for Middlesbrough defender David Wheater after Aston Villa saw off Italian side Fiorentina in a pre-season friendly at Villa Park. The Villa manager took the 350-mile round trip to the Riverside with his assistant John Robertson and chief scout Ian Storey-Moore to watch Wheater in Boro's 0-0 Championship opener against Sheffield United on Friday night. Martin O'Neill is trying to sign Middlesbrough's David Wheater The dash to the North-East followed the late completion earlier that evening of Habib Beye's £2m arrival from Newcastle as O'Neill's third summer signing and the stalled attempts to land No 1 defensive target Sylvain Distin from Portsmouth. The French stopper is still very much on O'Neill's radar to replace the retired Martin Laursen. But Wheater represents a viable alternative as cash-strapped Pompey insist on trying to sell Distin to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, Emile Heskey earned Villa victory over Fiorentina with a 14th-minute strike from Ashley Young's measured pullback.
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