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
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat