'Hurt' Gerard Houllier defends Aston Villa team selection

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier has defended his team selection for the FA Cup clash at Manchester City after coming under fire from supporters.

Houllier insists he is as "hurt" as the 900 fans who made the trip to Eastlands.

Fans have vented their anger after Houllier made eight changes for the fifth-round clash which City won 3-0.

It followed on from local rivals Birmingham winning the Carling Cup against Arsenal to give their supporters bragging rights in the city.

But Houllier has no regrets about his selection policy as he prepares for Saturday's Barclays Premier League encounter at Bolton.

Houllier said: "We were beaten by a better team than us. With the team that I fielded, first of all it is not just about 11 players and the rest don't exist.

"I want everyone fresh and hungry. The team that played had three international players up front. One (Emile Heskey) had 62 England caps and played in the last World Cup.

"Another one (Gabriel Agbonlahor) was in England's last squad against Denmark.

"The other one (Nathan Delfouneso) scored against Blackburn in the FA Cup this season.

"I had to make changes anyway with Darren Bent cup-tied and Nathan Baker was injured while Robert Pires is 37.

"But I've always made four or five changes for the cup ties and we are devastated to be out of the cup. I wanted to win there. I trust my players to do the job."

Houllier added: "The fans are like me. They are hurt because we lost in the (Carling Cup) quarter-final against Birmingham when we should have won that game.

"But Manchester City is different. In the cups you need luck and drawing Man City away was difficult."

Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland, who is currently on loan at Newcastle, today insisted he was misquoted amid reports claiming he slated Houllier in an interview with a French magazine.

Ireland said his words on various subjects were "twisted to sound particularly blunt".

Ireland was reported to have said he was told to stay at home on match days and had to pay for his own medical treatment.

Houllier said: "I don't have to comment on what he said or didn't say. I need to check whether he said that or not.

"To me he is on loan, and that's it.

"I don't want to talk about Stephen Ireland. If I say things, it could be very damaging for him.

"I know he didn't like living in Birmingham. I like the city. He doesn't like the city.

"He doesn't want to come here (and live). He said there are a lot of people doing that. That was accepted by the previous regime.

"But, in fairness, he is a Villa player and he is on loan and I hope when he comes back, he will be able to deliver what we expect from him."

Villa central defender Richard Dunne is ruled out for a month with a dislocated shoulder.

But James Collins has a chance of recovering from a calf injury to face Bolton and would be a ready-made replacement.

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