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Everton assistant hails 'professional' Stones

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Villa await Houllier acceptance

Aston Villa hope to appoint Gerard Houllier as successor to Martin O'Neill in the next 48 hours.

Houllier is spending the weekend deciding whether to return to Premier League management after a six-year absence. He has emerged as the number one option for Villa owner Randy Lerner, who is keen to make an appointment sooner rather than later.

Houllier was interviewed for the post last week along with the likes of caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald and former West Ham boss Alan Curbishley.

The indications are that former Liverpool boss Houllier would not be against joining Villa in a traditional managerial type of role, but reserve team chief MacDonald's coaching skills are highly rated by Lerner - and the Villa players - and he could have a role with the first team.

Houllier gave little away on his future when questioned after attending Jamie Carragher's testimonial at Anfield on Saturday.

He is currently France's technical director but has come under fire after their disappointing World Cup campaign and may welcome a change.

There have been question marks raised over Houllier's health after he suffered heart problems during the latter part of his time with Liverpool, but he has apparently assured Villa they would have no cause for concern in this direction.

Lerner wants to bring a new manager in sooner rather than later to give them time with the players when they return from international duty before the match at Stoke on September 13.

Houllier, who was 63 last week, left Anfield six years ago and has been employed as his country's technical director since parting company with Lyon in 2007. He led the Reds to a UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup treble in 2001.

Villa believe he has the resume to keep them progressing in the right direction after three successive top-six finishes in the Premier League. Houllier also enjoyed title success with Paris St Germain and spent a decade overseeing the development of French football before moving to Liverpool.

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