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Petrov will remain defiant, says McLeish

“I spoke to him about half an hour ago. He’s typical Stan, defiant, but I think obviously he’s concerned about how it’s affected his loved ones.”

Stiliyan Petrov: diagnosed with leukaemia.
Stiliyan Petrov: diagnosed with leukaemia.
Image: Getty images

ASTON VILLA MANAGER Alex McLeish says Stiliyan Petrov is staying typically defiant after being diagnosed with leukaemia.

The Villa captain, who had a fever after last weekend’s defeat at Arsenal, was told he had developed the illness at lunchtime on Friday and is currently in London for treatment. The news has left McLeish in shock, but he is hopeful the Bulgarian international can make a full recovery.

“We certainly think it’s in the early stages and ‘Stan’ will get the best medical attention possible,” he said. ”I spoke to him about half an hour ago. He’s typical Stan, defiant, but I think obviously he’s concerned about how it’s affected his loved ones.

“I knew he was getting more tests after the viral condition we thought it was last week when he had a temperature and reported to the doctor after the game on the bus journey back.

“And the doc told me yesterday that there’s no chance of playing him, he was still run down and we were still waiting on some results.”

The manager is hoping, however, that the news could act as a springboard for the midlands side, who find themselves in the bottom half of the Premier League table and with a tough home fixture against Chelsea this weekend.

“The players will be gutted but hopefully galvanised to win this game for their captain tomorrow,” he said. ”Stiliyan I’m sure he will be rooting for the lads tomorrow and sending some of the vibes for these boys to be inspirational for this game against Chelsea.”

McLeish said that he had yet to speak to his players about the midfielder’s situation but several team-mates and other footballers have sent their best wishes via Twitter. Darren Bent said: “Really sad news to hear about our captain Stan Petrov. hopefully he’ll be back fighting fit soon. Thoughts are with him and his family. KTF.”

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Added Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “Absolutely inconsolable here regarding Stilian. He will overcome this like all the other barriers he faced in his life. Stilian has the heart of a lion and as part of the Celtic family he deserves all our best wishes and support.”

Shay Given was another to send his support: “In shock about Stiliyan Petrov acute leukaemia but we are all here for him and his family. Please God he makes a full recovery. #prayforstan”

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