Cummings will return for Rapids season opener

Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith says that although English Premier League side Aston Villa are interested in a loan deal for Omar Cummings, the star striker will be back in Colorado in time for the season opener March 19 against Portland.

News broke earlier this week that the struggling EPL club was interested in the Jamaican international, who scored a career-high 14 goals in 2010 and helped the Rapids win the first MLS Cup in franchise history.

“Aston Villa will take a little look and we’ll then see if that turns into a loan period,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “My involvement will be if he’s on trial and it turns into something more substantial. Then, he must be back for that first game.”

Smith said he first heard of the potential loan deal during his recent trip to England. Smith said it was Cummings’s agent who called some EPL clubs to try and drum up interest in the 28-year-old striker.

“I was a little surprised when I first heard about it,” Smith said. “But that is what you have to expect. That is any agent’s job to throw out a few bits of bait and get (their clients) under peoples’ noses.”

Aston Villa, who have done well in the Premiership in recent seasons, are currently languishing towards the bottom of the table and are struggling for goals. There is some noted turmoil at the club with current manager Gerrard Houllier, who is under some pressure to retain his job.

Both Smith and Rapids assistant Steve Guppy have connections with Aston Villa that have helped in the past with player development with the Rapids. Guppy has a strong personal relationship with former Villa manager Martin O’Neill from their time together at Leicester City and Wycombe Wanderers, and Smith also played with Wycombe when O’Neill coached there.

The Rapids have used those links to persuade former Villa reserves player Danny Earls to make the move to the Rocky Mountains via the Rochester Rhinos, where Guppy also played. Former Rapids winger Colin Clark has trained with Aston Villa.

In other Rapids news, Smith said the team is still in discussions with Tyrone Marshall regarding a deal to secure the veteran center back’s services for 2011. The former Sounders defender and Jamaican international was selected by the Rapids in the Stage 2 of the Re-Entry draft, but his initial offer from Colorado was rejected.

Smith confirmed he wanted to secure the veteran as a back-up to current starters Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne.

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