De La Cruz eyes Villa exit

Aston Villa full-back Ulises De la Cruz wants to leave the club after finding his first-team opportunities limited at Villa Park.

The 31-year-old Ecuador defender has started just two games this season but was a regular in previous campaigns since his move from Hibernian in 2002.

De la Cruz has struggled with a calf injury and summer signing Aaron Hughes appears to be first-choice right-back for manager David O’Leary.

With the World Cup at the end of the season, De la Cruz wants regular football to boost his chances of making an impact in Germany.

“I need to leave,” he said. “I need to play – for the World Cup and to get the confidence back.

“This is my opportunity, I’m 31 and need to have the opportunity to move to play for the World Cup.”

He added on Sky Sports News: “I was very happy at Aston Villa – I would say ‘thank you very much’ – but the last months have changed and it has been very frustrating. I need to move and change direction for the World Cup.”

De la Cruz has not featured for O’Leary since the defeat to Middlesbrough at the Riverside in October, when he was substituted at half-time.

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