Belfast Telegraph

Houllier taken ill

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier was recovering in hospital on Thursday after being taken ill on Wednesday night.

Press Association Sport understands that Houllier is in a comfortable condition and has already spoken on Thursday morning with Villa's chief executive Paul Faulkner, but he could be kept in hospital for a few days and assistant boss Gary McAllister is likely to be in charge for Saturday's home Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke.

Villa are making no official comment at this stage but are set to release a statement later on Thursday on Houllier's condition.

The 63-year-old had open heart surgery in October 2001, while manager of Liverpool, after suffering chest pains during a match against Leeds.

He has come under fire from Villa fans on a couple of occasions this season and sections of them have called for him to be sacked, but results have improved in recent weeks with Villa climbing into the top half of the Premier League.

Following the open heart surgery, Houllier returned to full-time management with the Reds five months later, but parted company with the club in 2004.

He then had a spell with Lyon before returning to full-time management with Villa in September as Martin O'Neill's successor.

When he took the position at Villa, Houllier revealed he had consulted his heart surgeon before accepting the job.

He said he had returned to speak to Dr Abbas Rashid, the man who led the team who performed an 11-hour operation on the Frenchman, and was given a clean bill of health.

"When you go into a job you know there will be pressure, that it will be hard work and you won't sleep every night," said Houllier at the time. "You need to make sure your body is ready. I have checked that. I am much healthier and fitter now than I was before."

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