Aston Villa handed John Carew blow

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Aston Villa's striker shortage has become even more acute after John Carew was ruled out for around three weeks by a torn calf muscle.

The 31-year-old Norway international had been expected to lead the line against Fulham this weekend in the absence of both Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor, but Carew has now joined his colleagues on the sidelines.

Manager Gerard Houllier had earlier challenged Carew to show that he is worth a new contract, with the striker's current deal set to run out at the end of the season.

The Frenchman had said:"John is a centre-forward. What you expect from a centre-forward is goals. He can do that.

"On his day he can be absolutely awesome – practically impossible to stop. We want the top John Carew that I know.

"John is at the end of his contract. It is an opportunity to express what he wants – whether he wants to stay at the club or whether he wants to go somewhere else.

"But in both cases I would say he has got to be at his best to be in the shop window."

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