Gary McAllister delivered an encouraging bulletin on the health of Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier after Darren Bent's goal secured a 1-1 draw against Stoke at Villa Park.
Stand-in manager McAllister visited Houllier, who has been suffering from chest pains, in hospital on Friday night and spoke to the Frenchman before the game. 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 this morning. I saw him on Friday night and a couple of times during the day. 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."
He added: "I spoke to him before the kick-off and his main concern as always was the players. He wants them to do well.
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."
Stoke manager Tony 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."
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