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Life and times of sad Stan

CAREER appearances for Villa: 46. Career goals for Villa: 15 (One league goal since Feb 98).

MAY 1997: Joins Aston Villa from Liverpool for pounds 7million.

OCT 1997: Sent off for violent conduct and banned for three matches after a brawl with Bolton's Andy Todd.

MAR 1998: Alleges racial abuse by former Anfield team-mate Steve Harkness during match at Villa Park. Both players are summoned by FA, but no action is taken.

APR 1998: Cleared of assaulting former girlfriend Michelle Green. She claims he punched and knocked her to the ground in a row over their two-year-old son

JUN 1998: Attacks celebrity girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in a Paris bar, kicking and punching her. He later says he is 'beside himself with remorse'.

JUL 1998: Sports manufacturers Diadora withdraw sponsorship deal with Collymore.

NOV 1998: Collymore is sent off against Liverpool after a tackle on Harkness sees the defender stretchered off and a retaliatory attack on Michael Owen earns him a second yellow card.

JAN 1999: Storms out of Villa Park after learning that he's not in the starting line-up for the FA Cup fourth round match with Fulham.

FEB 1999: Collymore returns to first-team action, but is still receiving stress counselling during the week. Manager John Gregory says he trains less than a Conference player.STAN COLLYMORE could be facing the sack from Aston Villa as soon as the season ends.

Unless the controversial pounds 7million striker sorts out his football and his life, Villa could be forced to cancel Collymore's contract on medical grounds.

Manager John Gregory confirmed yesterday: "That is one possibility we might need to consider, depending on how things develop with Stan during the next few weeks."

With Collymore due to continue receiving treatment for clinical depression for the foreseeable future, Villa's plan centres around claims he is no longer fit to play Premiership soccer.

That would also involve a financial settlement for the remaining two seasons on Collymore's contract, worth around pounds 2.1m to the 28-year-old ex-England international.

But in a further move, Villa are likely to explore their chances of recouping part of the club record fee Collymore cost from Liverpool in 1997. Stan the Man is insured for the full pounds 7m, despite his plummeting value in today's market.

Villa would hope to claw back up to half that amount on the basis that pounds 20,000-a-week Collymore has served out only two of the four years in his contract when he arrived from Anfield.

Collymore's Villa career has been on the line ever since last summer's widely-condemned incident when he launched a physical assault on former girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson.

Despite appearing in Villa's last two matches, both lost, Collymore has still started only ten Premiership matches this season.

His seven-goal tally includes three against Norwegian part-timers Stromsgodset in the UEFA Cup, two against Hull City in the FA Cup and just one in the Premiership.

Recently, Gregory tried to off-load Collymore by offering him in part exchange plus pounds 5m for Nottingham Forest's Steve Stone.

When Collymore turned down the idea, Villa were still able to get England winger Stone for pounds 5.5m in cash, underlining Gregory's rockbottom valuation of stressed-out Stan.

Throughout the Collymore saga, Gregory has always maintained a sceptical attitude towards the striker's off-the-field trauma.

With one-time leaders Villa suffering a terrible slump which now threatens even UEFA Cup qualification, Gregory admits: "I could have done without the sideshow surrounding Stan.

"It is bound to affect the rest of the players to a degree, and they were fifty-fifty over his return to the side.

"I guess it has affected me as well. Even I feel a touch depressed about Stan's situation, despite being a pretty cheerful individual myself.

"Stan is not well. That's a fact. He wants to stay with Aston Villa, but there are other things to take into account. For a start, the doctors want to see more of him at the private clinic he attends three days a week.

"But it would be better for us and Stan if he trained most mornings, then received treatment locally in Birmingham."

Gregory, who revealed he would have argued with Villa's previous manager Brian Little about buying Collymore in the first place, said: "It has to be sorted out one way or the other.

"The longer Stan is away, the more difficult it becomes to fit him fully into my team schedule.

"I am giving Stan another chance at the moment. If things don't improve, he can't complain he was never picked in the side.

"He wants to play for Villa. He has promised the chairman, Doug Ellis, that he can still recapture the kind of form that his tremendous ability should guarantee on a consistent basis.

"But deep down, Stan is honest enough to confess that what he wants most of all is to be a well person again."

Copyright - David Moore

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