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By ESPN Staff

Houllier could make Liverpool return

Gerard Houllier could make a surprise appearance for Aston Villa's final match of the season at home to Liverpool next Sunday.

Villa manager Houllier was admitted to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth hospital on April 20 suffering with a heart problem, and discharged nine days later.

However, given Houllier's health history as he underwent open-heart surgery nine and a half years ago, there has been speculation over whether he will return to the helm at all.

Assistant manager Gary McAllister, who has served as caretaker for Villa's last three matches and will do so again for Sunday's trip to Arsenal, today confirmed Houllier was on the mend and could be at Villa Park for the game with his former club.

"Gerard is very good. I've seen quite a bit of him this week, and I've been speaking to him a great deal,'' said McAllister.

"I've been over and we ventured out and had a bit of lunch. He's up and about, certainly more free around the house, so he's good.

"There have been loads of conversations with (chief executive) Paul Faulkner, myself, getting on with things, preparing for next year.''

Asked about the possibility of being around for the club's end-of- season showdown with the Reds, McAllister added: "He won't be in the dugout, but there might be a visit of such. Maybe there is a chance of it, although it's something we've not spoken about.''

This week defender Luke Young voiced his concerns regarding the prospect of a summer of uncertainty at Villa Park should Houllier's absence be indefinite.

Dismissing such a possibility, McAllister said: "I can dispel that. Absolutely. Apart from not being fit enough to take training, he is certainly fit enough to be getting on with the business side of things, which you would do in the office after a training session.

"Every indication I've got from speaking to Gerard, how positive he is in his own mind and from all the things we've chatted about, is he is eager to go into the summer prepared for pre-season.

"As you can imagine there's quite a lot of work to be done. That's a fact. When you come to this end of the season, as much as people think it's a winding down for the club, there is a lot of preparation and stuff that needs to be set in place for next season.

"That entails people who are in our plans, and those who are not, people whose contracts we want to extend, those who are coming up to certain lengths of the contract they have left.

"So there are certainly a few things that need to be ironed out.''

McAllister has confirmed Houllier is under "no pressure in terms of time'' as to when he will be back in his office.

"I think for everybody there will be a definite decision, but every indication from Gerard is that we are getting on with what we need to get on with at this moment in time,'' added McAllister.

One of the players Houllier and McAllister are looking to retain is veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who turns 40 next Wednesday.

American Friedel has played every league game since joining Villa in July 2008 from Blackburn for £2 million.

"I don't know if there are other clubs interested, but there have been discussions and a contract offer made to Brad,'' said McAllister.

"He's had a fantastic season, no doubt about that, but everybody is aware of his age, and it's something we've got to be looking at as well.

"But he's played the part of the experienced player very well.''

McAllister heads to the Emirates Stadium without defender Ciaran Clark due to a niggly hamstring problem, but with midfielder Jean Makoun available after missing the last two games with a dead leg.

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