Houllier expects Ireland to leave

Published Dec. 18, 2010 11:58 a.m. ET

Gerard Houllier will allow Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland to leave the club after claiming: "Once a player wants to go, he goes."

Houllier has held a further meeting with Ireland and his representative with the player making it clear he feels his future lies elsewhere.

He was left out of the matchday squad for last Saturday's derby with West Brom and has also been excluded for Saturday's clash at Wigan.

Houllier made it clear soon after arriving at Villa three months ago that he wanted Ireland to "work harder".

He has always recognised the talent of Ireland but it appears a parting of the ways could occur during the January transfer window.

When asked about the meeting with Ireland, Houllier said: "I don't know why you are asking me because, if you get the agent, he will tell you!

"I said he is a member of my squad, that I expect him to be performing a bit more when we play games, that is all.


"There is a discrepancy between what I see in training sometimes and what I see in the games.

"I told his agent that is his problem, he has got to sort that out.

"I like the man, I like the player, he has got a skilled touch, he has got an eye for the pass, but he has got to adapt to modern football as well."

Asked if the player might leave in the winter transfer window, Houllier replied: "He said he wanted to go in January.

"He said that to his agent. I am not so convinced about that.

"Have I told him to move? No, no, no. Once a player wants to go, he goes. Simple as that.

"I think we will be looking to get the same kind of money back. The club probably would."

Houllier denied that Ireland had been axed from the squad as a disciplinary measure or that playing him in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Leicester was a punishment.

He said: "I read stupid things like punishment and things like that. There is no punishment.

"There is a punishment when the player is not involved at all. There is a punishment when the player is not training at all. That is a punishment.

Houllier also hinted that the door would be open for a first-team recall for Ireland if he showed improved form.

He said: "Of course he will (be given the opportunity). He will have to click and give us something.

"But I am quite patient. You've got to be patient.

"But he is not involved in the squad that travels to Wigan. Simple as that and I don't want to add to that.

"It is a football decision. Is that clear?"

Houllier admits he may offload a couple of players next month but denies he has been asked to reduce the wage bill.

He said: "Maybe there are one or two that will leave. Probably those who are not happy not to play on a regular basis, yes. But that is football.

"But I wasn't asked to bring the wage bill down. Nothing special like that."