Villa signing Pires `ready to play on Sunday`

LONDON : Robert Pires said on Wednesday that he will be ready to play for his new club Aston Villa against Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, if the formalities of his contract are completed in time.

"It`s not a problem for me to play on Sunday," said the 37-year-old, who has not played an official match since leaving Villarreal last summer.

"I`ve been training with Arsenal for two months. I`m happy and in good shape. I just have to see the medical team at Aston Villa at the end of the week and, if I`ve signed, I hope to be involved in the trip to Blackburn."

The former France international midfielder had been linked with a number of clubs since becoming a free agent following his departure from Villarreal, but he warned that his move to Villa was yet to be made official.

"Nothing`s been done yet, nothing`s been signed, but the discussions with (Villa coach) Gerard Houllier are on the right track," said Pires.

"All that`s left is for me to convince the team doctor in order for me to sign, I hope, between now and the end of the week.

"The agreement will be for six months or more, but there are still a few things to sort out. I can nonetheless assure you that it`s nothing to do with financial considerations."

Pires won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal between 2000 and 2006, as well as the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship with France.

On Tuesday, Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister told the club`s website, "Robert has been training at Arsenal.

"I know the boss and (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger are very friendly and I believe he`s going to join us in the next two or three days.

"It`s perfect. I am sure he will arrive at the training ground in good condition. He`s a player everyone can look up to because of what he has achieved."

Villa, who have been hit by injuries to several key players in recent weeks, are currently ninth in the Premier League table.

Bureau Report