Football

Houllier seeks to strengthen squad

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Gerard Houllier admits he needs to strengthen his Aston Villa squad during the January transfer window.

Houllier is preparing for his first derby against Birmingham on Sunday without several key players through injury and suspension. Skipper Stiliyan Petrov and striker Gabriel Agbonlahor are sidelined through injury, while fast emerging winger Marc Albrighton is suspended after his red card against Burnley in the Carling Cup.

"I don't like January because January is not a good period. But you need to be blind not to see that there are some areas where we are not blessed with numbers," said Houllier.

"If we spot a really good player with internationally-proven experience who can bring something to the team, particularly in some areas, we will take him.

"We need to bring some players in. That's it. I think we will have one or two coming in January. Will it be up front? Not necessarily."

Houllier is aware of the passion generated by a derby but stressed the need to concentrate on playing football at Villa Park. He is also expecting the same response from his long-time friend and Birmingham manager Alex McLeish.

He said: "I had the Lyon-St Etienne derbies and the Liverpool-Everton derbies. I know the importance of the derby for the fans and the players. The players talk about it, which is good.

"All I know is that we need to play our football. At the end of the day, it is a game of football. Knowing their manager very well, I don't think he will pump up the players to do anything but just play football.

"The more fiery it becomes, the more composure you have to give. The derbies also shows a lot about the character of your players. I very much like the mental attitude of the players."

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Topics:
Marc Albrighton
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Football
Stiliyan Petrov
Premier League
Alex
Everton
Aston Villa
Birmingham
Liverpool

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