Mark Hughes denies Fulham departure is linked to Villa job

Mark Hughes' departure from Fulham has "no connection" with the vacant Aston Villa hot-seat following manager Gerard Houllier's departure, Press Association Sport understands.

Several bookmakers were last night taking no more bets on Hughes, who is odds-on to take over as manager of the Villa Park club.

But sources close to Villa are adamant it is pure coincidence Hughes is available at this juncture and insisting "don't believe what the bookmakers are saying".

Hughes was also insisting he has not been approached for any managerial post.

Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti remains amongst the candidates with the kind of pedigree which impresses Villa owner Randy Lerner

Everton boss David Moyes, ex-England head coach Steve McClaren and former Tottenham manager Martin Jol are also names being linked with Villa.

Hughes was only fourth choice amongst Villa fans to replace Houllier in a poll conducted by a Birmingham paper behind Moyes, Ancelotti and Jol.

What is clear is Villa are hoping to appoint Houllier's successor before the end of June.

They want to give him time to assess the current squad and bring in potential targets before the new campaign.

The current squad are due to report back for pre-season training on July 7.

A source close to Villa said: "The club are aware of the need to bring in the right man with the right pedigree.

"But they are also aware of the important of giving him time to make his mark before the new season after last summer."

That is a reference to Villa having start looking for a new manager so near to the start of the campaign after O'Neill decided to end his four-year reign.

Houllier did not take charge until mid-September and was left to play catch-up in trying to make his mark on the club with the transfer window closed.