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Houllier to leave hospital this week

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier is expected to leave hospital this week after being told by doctors his heart is in "perfect condition".

Houllier was taken ill on Thursday after complaining of chest pains with assistant manager Gary McAllister taking control of the team for their 1-1 draw with Stoke on Saturday.

The 63-year-old is not expected to resume his role before the end of the season and thanked all those who had sent him messages of support.

"I am extremely touched by all the messages I have received and by the reaction of people throughout the world of football. It has been overwhelming actually," Houllier told the club's official website.

"I'm especially grateful to the Villa fans for their genuine concern and encouragement and to the fans of clubs up and down the country. There has been a groundswell of good will and I appreciate this so much.

"I'm grateful to my players for their texts and messages and, of course, for their efforts in extending our recent unbeaten run on Saturday against Stoke and also to Gary McAllister and the rest of my staff - the team behind the team - for stepping in and taking the reins at this time.

"I'm grateful, too, to my managerial colleagues who have taken the time to get in touch with me. You need to know that the care I have received at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been first class and I am in the debt of the medical staff whose expertise and human touch has helped me through these past six days.

"My condition is improving and extremely encouraging. Dr Mark Waller, the club's doctor, is better placed to explain things from a medical viewpoint, so suffice to say again that I am very moved by the fact that so many people have me in their thoughts just now."

Houllier was taken to hospital in October 2001 during his time in charge of Liverpool and had to undergo emergency heart surgery. He was absent for five months before returning to the club.

Villa have endured a difficult season of late with only their recent wins over Newcastle and West Ham banishing fears of relegation.

Of Houllier's condition, Dr Mark Waller said: "Gerard was admitted to hospital on Wednesday last week after complaining of chest pain. The cause of his chest pain was a dissection of the descending aorta.

"All the tests have confirmed that his heart is working perfectly. We are extremely encouraged by Gerard's improvement over the past six days and w now anticipate that he will be discharged from the coronary care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital within the next three to four days."

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