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Steve Bruce worried about mass exodus of Aston Villa stars

Steve Bruce worried about mass exodus
© Reuters
Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce is not confident of keeping hold of the likes of Jack Grealish, James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia if offers are tabled.

Steve Bruce has acknowledged that it is 'inevitable' Aston Villa will lose a number of key players before the end of the summer transfer window due to the threat of administration.

The Villans are embarking on a cost-cutting campaign after failing in their mission of returning to the Premier League within two seasons, falling just short last time out with defeat to Fulham in the playoff final.

Villa have already offloaded top earner John Terry, but they still need to raise a further £40m if they are to comply with Financial Fair Play rules.

Owner Dr Tony Xia is seeking new investment in the cash-strapped club, with reports suggesting that Jack Grealish, Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester may all be sold to help raise funds.

Asked how difficult life will become if he loses his star men before the start of the new season, Bruce told Sky Sports News: "Very, very difficult because obviously I have come out and you want to go on holiday in three or four weeks. Of course, then it unravels, all of the problems the club has got itself into. And the first thing before we go into anything is that we have to address is Financial Fair Play - forget everything else for the moment. Financial Fair Play has to be addressed whether the owner has got any money or not, so we have to try and put that in place if we possibly can.

"Obviously, the owner has put out a statement. I had a conversation with him four or five days ago where I issued my commitment to the club, and to him, where I said: 'We're up against it, let's be open and honest, we might have to make decisions that might not be easy, we have to generate some money'. Inevitably that is going to be player sales. There are going to be people that I do not want to sell - and the obvious one is Jack - but people will know that we have got financial problems and they'll sit and wait, and wait, till Deadline Day possibly.

"I hope that doesn't happen but we've got to baton down the hatches and wait for it. I think we have got to be truthful to the supporters - that could happen. That is the inevitability. I didn't like to hear that and maybe the easier thing for me to do is say 'I don't like that' and then walking away from that. After thinking about it I thought the club is in trouble and if ever it needs me, with my experience to beg steal and borrow, then now is the time.

"We are a big, big, club; a huge club with a big fanbase and that will never change. We are having a tough time at the moment but we have got to try and steer our way through it and ride the storm if we possibly can, baton down the hatches and get on with the hand that we have been dealt at the moment. I have accepted it and committed myself to the cause and I think it is better to be open and honest with the supporters, warts and all, to say how it is. We know what to expect. We don't want to lose Grealish, Kodjia and Chester but the inevitability is we might have to so let's get ready for it."

Villa missed a £4m tax payment earlier this month, leaving the threat of a winding-up order hanging over them.

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Aston Villa owner Tony Xia pictured on August 13, 2016
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Tony Xia: 'Aston Villa not for sale'
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