Houllier has faith in Reo-Coker

Former England Under-21 captain Reo-Coker’s days at Villa looked

numbered in the summer. He had a training ground fall-out with

O’Neill early last season and made only spasmodic appearances for

the Midlands club. But one of Houllier’s first actions after taking

charge last month was to restore Reo-Coker to the side and he has

responded with some encouraging performances. Houllier said: “Right

away, I knew that I needed Nigel and I think he has done well for

us. “We needed someone who has got the grit to win the ball back

for us. “Nigel has got a specific job for the team and he is doing

it well. “Don’t forget, he had hardly played since the beginning of

the season before he came into the side.” Houllier has already

stressed that it is too early to comment on any possible new

contract for Reo-Coker, whose current deal expires in the summer.

But Villa midfielder Marc Albrighton admitted: “We definitely want

to keep players like Nigel. “He does the dirty work in the middle

and then gives it to players who will create the chances for us. “I

think he had a bad couple of seasons when he wasn’t enjoying his

football but the gaffer now has given him a new lease of life.”