Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier will be absent from the dugout for Saturday’s match against Stoke, having been admitted to hospital with chest pains.The former Liverpool manager needed a major heart operation during his time at Anfield but will not require surgery this time.
Villa assistant Gary McAllister will take charge for the match at Villa Park and he said: “He is on the coronary ward. He was great and bubbly. He had a tough night but he was looking surprisingly well and in fine fettle.”
“They (the specialists) are definitely saying there is no surgery needed, which is a massive plus.”
“The last time there was major surgery. This time there will be no surgery needed, purely medicine and rest.”
Villa are likely to be unchanged after collecting seven points from their previous three games to climb into the top half of the table, easing their relegation fears.
Midfielder Fabian Delph was the only previous absentee and he has recovered from a groin injury.
McAllister was at Liverpool when Houllier required major heart surgery in October 2001 and the Villa assistant is confident the team will be able to cope as well as he managed the first time Houllier suffered a scare.
He added: “There was shock within the Liverpool dressing room and we knew there was a major problem with the length of the surgery and what it entailed. It was a big operation.
“But Phil Thompson came in and that midweek we went to Kiev for a Champions League game and it was the first time Kiev had been beaten at home.
“The players rallied and were playing for the manager and I’m sure that is what will happen here. A perfect tonic for the manager will be getting three points against Stoke.”