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Hughes quits Fulham, no Villa contact

Mark Hughes has left Fulham after less than a year at Craven Cottage, but ESPNsoccernet understands that he is not Aston Villa's first choice to replace Gerard Houllier.

• Houllier resigns as Villa manager
• Fulham blog: Marking Time

Hughes, 47, walked out on Fulham on Wednesday night after exercising a clause in his contract that allowed him to quit after his first season, though he is officially still contracted to the Cottagers until June 30.

The Welshman had been linked with a move to Villa before leaving Fulham and his departure led to heightened speculation that he would replace Houllier - who himself left Villa Park on Wednesday.

But former Blackburn and Manchester City manager Hughes was keen to insist that an approach from Villa was not behind his Fulham exit and ESPNsoccernet understands he does not even top the midlands club's shortlist.

"I hope the supporters will understand that as a young, ambitious manager I wish to move on to further my experiences," Hughes said.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that neither myself nor my representative have approached or have been approached by another club."

"I would like to thank the chairman, directors, players and fans of Fulham Football Club for their support over the last 12 months and wish them every success in the future. I believe my management team and I have done a good job and the club has a strong foundation from which they can go forward.

"I have especially enjoyed our excellent relationship with the chairman and chief executive (Alastair Mackintosh). I sincerely wish Fulham a successful campaign in the Europa League next season and for their continued progress on and off the field.''

A Fulham statement confirmed: "Fulham Football Club can confirm that Mark Hughes has provided notice, under the terms of his contract, to leave the club at the end of June. After discussions with Mark the club has agreed to accept this notice."

Hughes joined Fulham last July, seven months after being sacked by Manchester City, and guided the Cottagers to an eighth-place finish - the second highest in the club's history.

Villa announced on Wednesday that they had parted company with Houllier because of the health problems he suffered towards the end of the season and the likes of Steve McClaren, David Moyes and Rafa Benitez have been linked to the post, with former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti emerging as a favourite among the bookies.

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