McAllister upbeat over Houllier

Stand-in manager McAllister visited Houllier, who has been

suffering from chest pains, in hospital on Friday night and spoke

to the Frenchman before Saturday’s Premier League game at Villa

Park. Darren Bent, one of Houllier’s January signings, scored his

seventh goal in 12 games after Kenwyne Jones had given Stoke the

lead. McAllister said: “A few of the staff went to see Gerard (on

Saturday) morning. I saw him last night and a couple of times

yesterday. “I spoke to him before the kick-off and his main concern

as always was the players. He wants them to do well. I’m going to

go up to the hospital now. “All the signs are encouraging. He has

got a bit of colour in his cheeks and he doesn’t look like a guy

who has had a tough couple of days.” McAllister reaffirmed that

Houllier will be guided by the specialists as to when he will be

fit enough to return to Villa. He said: “We will be guided by the

specialists. We are being totally guided by them. It won’t be

Gerard or Aston Villa’s decision when he comes back. There is no

surgery this time. It will be rest and medicine.” McAllister

insists Villa are looking upwards in the table after a run of eight

points from four games has effectively ended any fears of

relegation. He said: “We are on a good run at the moment so the

place is buzzing. “We need points to catch Bolton. Two or three

weeks ago we would have been looking the other way. “We want to

keep the run going. Four games unbeaten. Since we lost to

Sunderland here in January, we’ve not done bad.” Stoke’s main

concern is over the fitness of striker Ricardo Fuller who suffered

an Achilles injury after appearing as a substitute with the FA Cup

final only three weeks away. Manager Tony Pulis said: “We are not

sure how bad it is. He’s going off to have a scan so we won’t know

that until Monday. “It is disappointing because Ricardo is a game

changer from the bench. He can come on and do special things.”

Pulis is adamant his players will not ease up before the Wembley

clash with Manchester City. He said: “There is a danger you think

of Wembley before it comes along and then players take their foot

off the pedal. “We must not do it. The Premier League is still our

main priority. We still need points.”