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By ESPN Staff

Houllier senses Villa revival

Gerard Houllier expects Aston Villa's fortunes to change for the better by mid-January and insists he has the full backing of owner Randy Lerner.

• Fofana deal in doubt

Houllier came under fire from some sections of supporters after Tuesday's inept showing in a 4-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Houllier believes the Villa players have been "affected mentally'' by the club's current plight with them hovering only just above the Premier League relegation zone. But he is confident there will be an upturn in results once the cluster of senior players returning from injury have acquired full match fitness.

Houllier said: "When you don't get results the supporters always look at you. The players win games and managers lose games! The results have not been going our way. We have to stick together and push on. I was watching Mark Hughes at Fulham. He said that practically a week ago everyone was on to him - and then one win away (at Stoke) changed things. With Mick McCarthy at Wolves it was probably the same thing - then he wins at Liverpool.

"I think some players are very affected by what's going on, mentally. But I'm glad to say some of the experienced guys are coming back. With some experienced players, who've been out for some time coming back, we'll be a better team. Maybe after mid-January, it will be a different scenario.''

When asked if he retains the backing of Lerner, Houllier said: "Definitely. If the chairman trusts you, that trust goes also to the players and we're in this together. The chairman, chief executive, the people at the club, the fans, everyone is suffering, probably to a level we did not expect. But there is no panic and we will keep working and I'm confident at some stage we will get there. If we keep working to do a good job, at some juncture we will turn things around.''

Houllier will expect his side to show more resolution against Chelsea in Sunday's clash at Stamford Bridge.

He said: "When you go through a difficult period there are three options - fight, fright or flight. We have to fight. Maybe in the game against Manchester City we were a bit frightened but they also played well. We were probably at our lowest level and they were at a very good level.''

Striker Emile Heskey and winger Ashley Young will return after recovering from ankle and knee injuries respectively against Chelsea. Houllier also confirmed that central defender Richard Dunne is likely to return to the squad after being overlooked for the mauling at Eastlands. But he is happy for centre-back Curtis Davies to remain on loan at Leicester and is allowing reserve goalkeeper Brad Guzan to make the temporary switch to Hull.

He said: "I had a call from (Leicester manager) Sven-Goran Eriksson on Thursday night and, if the boy (Davies) wants to stay and there's no change here, it's better for him to play. We've got Richard Dunne, who I think will be back, James Collins, Carlos Cuellar and Ciaran Clark so that's four defenders. I'll probably speak to him (Davies) after the period of the new year.''

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