Houllier calls for fan support

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has refused to apologise for fielding an under-strength team against Manchester City and has urged the fans to back him.

Villa fans were angered to see their side exit the FA Cup this week as they lost 3-0 to Manchester City, with the likes of Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor not making the starting line-up.

It has led to renewed speculation over Houllier’s future but the Villa manager said: “I was surprised by the criticism. We did not go out with youth, in midfield we had three international players.”

“Manchester City are above us. My view is to keep everyone fresh and hungry. I don’t believe we played badly. Their squad is better than ours.”

“I’m sorry. Perhaps, I should have warned the fans before but it is not as if I was playing the youth team. There was risk, yes I took a risk but these are good players.”

“I am not doing PR. I am working for the club and the future and the first priority is the league. I know what I am doing.”

Carlos Cuellar will not be selected for Villa’s trip to Bolton due to a hamstring injury but Nathan Baker will return. Richard Dunne’s shoulder injury is expected to keep him out for three or four weeks.

James Collins has a slight chance of recovering from a calf strain and Jean Makoun completes a three-match ban.