Gerard Houllier wants to retain Brad Friedel at Aston Villa

Gerard Houllier has revealed his desire to retain veteran keeper Brad Friedel, whose current contract runs out next summer.

Friedel joined Villa from Blackburn in the summer of 2007 and has been a consistent performer, keeping a firm grip on the number one jersey.

When asked about a new contract for Friedel, Houllier said ahead of Sunday's derby with Birmingham: "I think it's too early to speak about that, but definitely yes (in terms of staying).

"At the moment, he's doing a good job, a very good job. He's very professional.

"With a player after the age of 30, you need to sometimes take into consideration certain things.

"When you have the opportunity to rest them, do it. But he's a good professional.

"He has always been like that. Everywhere he went I have never heard anything against him in terms of dedication, commitment, preparation.

"The boys like him as well."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is confident midfielder Alexander Hleb will be fit for Sunday's derby.

The on-loan Barcelona player suffered a twisted knee during last weekend's 2-0 win over Blackpool.

McLeish said: "Guys like Hleb are still trying to find full fitness. He is still missing training days.

"We really need him to get in full weeks of training to get him up to speed so that is a little disruptive in terms of momentum.

"But we saw the signs against Blackpool of a very entertaining player and he is fit to play on Sunday."

In another derby, Newcastle welcome Sunderland to St James' Park having lost three of their last four games there.

Asked about that run of results, manager Chris Hughton's response bore his distinctive trademark.

He said: "What we do know is we have done very well away from home, but we need to address our home form.

"I am aware that we need to be making sure we are picking up some results, and it would be an ideal game to do it in."

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will put his faith in youth once again as he attempts to launch his Tyne-Wear derby campaign with a victory.

Geordie-born Bruce has never even watched the local rivals lock horns before, but will have one of the best seats in the house at St James' Park on Sunday.

Bruce said: "Certainly what we have got is a young, hungry, aggressive team which can only get better.

"As I look through the midfield four, for example, Danny Welbeck is 19, Lee Cattermole is 22, Jordan Henderson is 20, Ahmed Elmohamady is 23, so they are all just learning their trade.

"But that's what we wanted, that's what I wanted and Niall (Quinn) has backed me on that.

"We wanted a really, really young, energetic team to take the club forward."

In other games this weekend West Ham cross London to meet Arsenal, Stoke travel to Everton, Blackburn host Chelsea, Wolves are home to Manchester City and Manchester United welcome Tottenham.

Bolton and Liverpool clash on Sunday afternoon with West Brom going to Blackpool on Monday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue