André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
There remains a strong possibility that Jamaica international, Omar Cummings, may extend his stay with English Premier League outfit Aston Villa to the beginning of March, as the goal-starved team looks to wrap-up a three-month loan deal for the 28-year-old striker.
Cummings, who has never played in Europe before, joined Villa's winter training camp late last month in what was initially a trial stint lasting a couple weeks, after an impressive season with the Colorado Rapids, where his career-best 14 goals powered the team to their first Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup triumph.
However, Aston Villa manager, Gerard Houllier, who also coached Liverpool from 1998 to 2004, is said to be keen on the prolific striker, after an impressive showing so far during his time at the Birmingham-based club.
Aston Villa are struggling in 15th place in the Premier League and are just two points clear of the relegation zone, having scored a meagre 23 goals. Only six teams have scored less and the Frenchman seems confident that the Jamaican can help to correct his team's goal-shyness.
"He will be here probably until March," said Houllier in a recent interview, which was carried in several British publications. "We looked at some videos and said we would have him here on trials, he looks quick."
Jeff Plush, managing director of the Colorado Rapids, confirmed to his team's official website, coloradorapids.com, that discussions have turned to a possible loan deal for the Jonathan Grant High, Cincinnati State College and University of Cincinnati alumnus.
An undisclosed buy-out clause has also reportedly been added to the agreement, fuelling speculation about the player's future.
The manager, however, stressed that a loan deal would not stretch beyond the Rapids' 2011 MLS home opener against the Portland Timbers on March 19.
"Omar is a Colorado Rapids player," said Plush. "We explained to Aston Villa that we would be open to discussing a loan agreement for Omar until our season starts on March 19 if it benefited Omar and the Colorado Rapids.
"It would take Aston Villa or any club making a significant offer for us to even consider transferring Omar," Plush added.
The Rapids' director of communications, Jason Gilham, was also careful to stress that at this point the Jamaican remains a Rapids player, but noted that discussions are ongoing between all parties.
"As it stands, he (Cummings) is on trial," said Gilham during a telephone interview with The Gleaner yesterday. "We are open to discussion and of course anything is possible. We are in constant discussion with Aston Villa but as it stands, today, he is on trial and remains a Colorado Rapids player."
This is not the first time that the striker has attracted interest from other foreign clubs as Mexican giants Necaxa came knocking in 2009 on the back of the striker's eight goals and 12 assists in the MLS.
Cummings has so far scored 30 goals in his 94 appearances for the Rapids and also has five in 21 matches in national colours.