Houllier gives backing to Reo-Coker
Gerrard Houllier admits he instantly recognised the importance to Aston Villa of midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker after he was repeatedly overlooked by previous manager Martin O'Neill.
Former England Under-21 captain Reo-Coker's days at Villa looked numbered in the summer.
He had a training ground fall-out with O'Neill early last season and made only spasmodic appearances for the midlands club.
But one of Houllier's first actions after taking charge last month was to restore Reo-Coker to the side and he has responded with some encouraging performances.
Houllier told Press Association Sport: "Right away I knew that I needed Nigel and I think he has done well for us.
"We needed someone who has got the grit to win the ball back for us.
"Nigel has got a specific job for the team and he is doing it well.
"Don't forget, he had hardly played since the beginning of the season before he came into the side."
Houllier has already stressed that it is too early to comment on any possible new contract for Reo-Coker, whose current deal expires in the summer.
But Villa midfielder Marc Albrighton admitted: "We definitely want to keep players like Nigel.
"He does the dirty work in the middle and then gives it to players who will create the chances for us.
"I think he had a bad couple of seasons when he wasn't enjoying his football but the gaffer now has given him a new lease of life."
Latest in Sport
Chelsea in Thailand: Eden Hazard offered 'free hug' as Jose Mourinho meets a familiar face
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget that fateful day in Belgium
Paul Scholes column: With Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Fifa bomb threat: Swiss authorities confirm a bomb threat has been made at the Fifa Congress
Michel Platini to consider pulling England and other Uefa members out of the World Cup if Sepp Blatter wins Fifa election
- 1 'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
- 2 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 3 Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of revenge porn
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'