Downing eyes ‘boost’ for boss

Houllier will spend the Easter weekend under observation at the

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after falling ill on

Wednesday night. Assistant boss Gary McAllister will take charge on

Saturday and it remains to be seen whether Houllier will return to

the dugout before the end of the season. England winger Downing

told the club’s official website: “Obviously, everyone at the club

is concerned for the manager. “It’s never nice, an experience like

this, especially for his family. “But the news is that he’s going

to be all right and that’s pleasing and reassuring. A good win

against Stoke on Saturday will help him no doubt. “In fact, the

last couple of weeks have been good and I’m sure the gaffer will

want us to continue in this vein. “That’s what Gary McAllister told

us, that the gaffer wants us to carry on playing like we’re playing

and to win as many points as we can between now and the end of the

season. “Hopefully, a good result on Saturday will be the perfect

boost for him.” Striker Darren Bent echoed Downing’s sentiments,

saying: “All of the players wish the gaffer a speedy recovery. “We

want him to be back as soon as possible. But his health comes first

and we need him to get better and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”