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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

Promising Irish defender Kevin Toner leaves Aston Villa on loan

The Ireland U19 international joins League One side Walsall.

IRELAND UNDERAGE INTERNATIONAL Kevin Toner has joined League One side Walsall on loan until January from Aston Villa.

The arrival of new Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo hasn’t worked out the way the Ashbourne man would have liked, with the 20-year-old having a limited role in pre-season, and has failed to feature this term for the newly-relegated Championship club, despite playing four times at the end of the last Premier League season.

The influx of experienced defenders Tommy Elphick from Bournemouth, James Chester from West Brom and Ritchie De Laet from Premier League champions Leicester City, has seen the versatile defender, who can play either in the heart of the defence or at left-back, pushed further down the pecking order at Villa Park.

But the Ireland U19 international who played six times on loan at Kidderminster last season, will be hoping to make an instant impact with neighbours Walsall.

“I’m delighted to have got it all sorted and I can’t wait to get going. I want to get out and play football and when the gaffer said he wanted me to come here I was delighted,” Toner told the club’s official website.

“I’ve played here a few times with Villa U21’s so I know the stadium as well which helps. But I’m not coming here just to make the numbers up. I want to do well. I want to help the team and help the boys.

“My loan at Kidderminster was a bit of an eye opener because you’re so used to the perfect pitches and the perfect everything. Coming here feels a bit more like home.”

Watford v Aston Villa - Barclays Premier League - Vicarage Road Toner played four Premier League matches at the end of last season. Source: Dominic Lipinski

Toner will be joined at the Bescot Stadium by Liam Kinsella, son of the former Ireland international Mark, and manager Jon Whitney is impressed with what he has seen so far from the former Ashbourne United defender.

“Kevin is an aggressive, front foot defender who also has a lot of quality on the ball,” Whitney said.

“I’ve brought him in to bolster our defensive options which we’ve been short of over the last few weeks.”

“He’s someone we’ve been monitoring for over a month now and I know he’s highly thought of at Aston Villa.

“I’m sure he’ll be a really good addition to the group and offers us some natural balance being a left footer and being able to play at left-back.

“I think the way we do things here can help him with this development and hopefully we can be successful together.”

The Saddlers currently sit in 17th place in League One, with four points form their opening four games and will face Bury on Saturday afternoon.

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Shane Costello

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