Eric Black backs Stiliyan Petrov to make Aston Villa return

The 36-year-old Bulgarian is eyeing a comeback with his former club three years after a grueling battle with leukaemia forced him to retire.

Stiliyan Petrov’s passion and work ethic could make him a key asset to Aston Villa in the Championship next season, according to caretaker manager Eric Black.

Petrov, 36, announced his decision earlier this week to make a comeback as a professional football with his former club after winning his battle with cancer.

The ex-Villa captain made 218 total appearances for the claret and blues between 2006 and 2012 before he was diagnosed with leukaemia after developing a fever during a 3-0 loss at Arsenal.

He was ultimately forced to hang up his boots in May 2013 without playing another game, but the Bulgarian is now back in training with Villa’s Under-21s and wants to re-join the club to help in their bid for promotion back to the Premier League next season.

Black has yet to see the former Celtic midfielder in training but previously worked with him at Parkhead and is backing him to make it back onto the pitch given his tremendous desire and determination.

Asked about Petrov’s comeback bid at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Watford, Black told reporters: “It's lovely to hear. It's absolutely marvellous. I worked with Stan for two years at Celtic when I was a coach there and that would certainly be a dream come true.

"Nothing would give me any more pleasure than to see Stiliyan pulling on an Aston Villa shirt again.

"I know how passionate he is about football and all about his tremendous work ethic.

"I haven't seen him in training but if there's a willingness and desire to do it then Stan has that in abundance. If he can possibly do it, he will do it."

Petrov first joined Villa from Celtic in August 2006 for £6.5 million, reuniting with his former manager Martin O’Neill after winning four Scottish league titles together at Parkhead.

After overcoming a slow start, the defensive midfielder went on to establish himself as a firm favourite for his committed performances and was handed the captain’s armband in the summer of 2009 following Martin Laursen’s retirement.

As well as winning the club’s Player of the Year award for 2008-09, he also helped O’Neill’s side achieve three straight sixth-place Premier League finishes and led the team to both the League Cup final and an FA Cup semi-final appearance in 2010.

Since his retirement, the 105-times capped Bulgarian has had a couple of backroom stints back at the club and has also been helping Kevin MacDonald coach the Under-21s on an informal basis over the course of this season.

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