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Aston Villa keeping tabs on Japan World Cup star

| 19.06.2014

Aston Villa will use the Japan v Greece game later tonight to run the final rule over Nuremburg midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake.

Villans boss Paul Lambert is a long-term admirer of the 23-year-old Japan ace but the German club’s £10m valuation of their player has proven a stumbling block until now.

However, with Greece looking a sorry excuse for a team in their opener against Colombia the Midlands club could pay the price for holding firm if the midfield maestro puts in another strong performance.

Villa had valued the player at around the £7.5m mark and with the World Cup proving the biggest shop window there is the price could yet rise further.

Kiyotake is not the most prolific of midfielders but with a move to the Premier League on the horizon he could well elevate his performance levels against the hapless Greeks and at 4/1 for an anytime goal could prove a shrewd pick.

The bigger odds of 12/1 may look more tempting but with just three goals to his name this year and only one in his international career to date he may take a little time to get into the swing of things.

Regardless of whether or not the Japan man nets Lambert would be well advised to follow up his initial interest if his side are to avoid another season flirting with relegation.

Big earners including Darren Bent and Alan Hutton are clearly not the future of the club so shifting them off the wage bill in order to accommodate fresh talent like Kiyotake should be at the top of the Scot’s agenda.

Villa have been handed a tough opening day fixture away to Stoke – for which they are priced as 13/5 underdogs – and after losing twice to the Potters last year Lambert will be keen to bring in new faces in order to hit the ground running when the new campaign starts.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.