sport

Sylla ready for relegation fight

Yacouba Sylla has declared himself raring to go in Aston Villa's battle to avoid relegation after completing his move to Villa Park.

The deadline-day capture of Sylla on a three-and-a-half-year contract is the only signing of the January transfer window for Villa, who are currently 19th in the top flight.

The 22-year-old is eligible to make his debut in Saturday's league clash with Everton at Goodison Park and Sylla says he cannot wait to help his new team in their bid to get out of trouble.

"I'm very excited about the prospect of playing for Aston Villa and also to be playing in the Premier League," said Sylla, who has represented France at Under-21 level.

"The manager (Paul Lambert) is building a dynamic and exciting young team here and there are players also with a lot of experience.

"I can't wait to fight for the club and help the club to climb the table.

"My first task will be to integrate myself with my new team-mates and to help those around me to grow and to build with them a strong team. I'm thrilled to be part of this.

"Playing at Villa Park will be unbelievable. It is a huge stadium with a great history and the crowd will be incredible. You dream about this when you become a footballer.

"I can hopefully help the team when we're defending against our opposition and to get the ball moving forward. I know the fans are very passionate and it will be great to get started as soon as possible.

"The club has made me feel very welcome already. The facilities at the training ground are first-class and I will be very proud when I put on the shirt and play my first game. I am looking forward to this very much."

Sylla, who has expressed his admiration for the "strong and forceful" playing style of Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote, has been with Ligue 2 outfit Clermont since 2009.

He has been linked with a number of teams around Europe, and having secured Sylla's signature, manager Paul Lambert will be hoping his new recruit can provide decent protection for a Villa defence which has looked incredibly vulnerable at times this season.

Lambert said: "Yacouba will add a bit of steel into the midfield which will help the other lads in there.

"Even though he's still a young guy, there were a few teams interested and closely monitoring him. I think he'll do well.

"Hopefully, he adapts quickly and gives us something to complement the guys around him.

"Physically, he's strong for it and, although he'll be new to it, he's raring to go."