Houllier relaxed at Young calling a halt to new contract talks

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The Independent Online

Gerard Houllier, the Aston Villa manager, claims he is "quite happy" for winger Ashley Young to delay talks over a new contract until next summer.

The Frenchman is conscious of Young "needing to know about the ambition of the club" before deciding on his future.

Young had intimated earlier this month that he was ready to sign a new deal with Villa, while Houllier was confident a contract would be agreed "sooner rather than later". But the player announced yesterday that he wanted to concentrate on his football and any talks would not happen until the end of the campaign. The England international will then have only 12 months remaining of the four-year deal he signed in 2008.

Houllier, whose side visit Sunderland today, said: "I am quite happy with what Ashley has said. He loves the fans here, he enjoys his football and, since I've come here, he very much enjoys the way he is progressing.

"I am quite happy with what he has said, that he wants to concentrate on his football and talk about [his contract] at the end of the season. I am happy. He looks happy. He is fine. He enjoys his football and you know when you are not happy, you don't improve.

"All I can see is he is a major part of our team but also a major part of our atmosphere and is lively and jovial. We like that, the way he behaves."

But Houllier admitted: "I've been here just over a month. Maybe he needs to know more. He needs to know about the ambition of the club but he knows he is a key part of our future and that's it."

Houllier insists his target is to make Young, who made his full competitive debut in the Euro 2012 qualifier with Montenegro at Wembley last week, into an established England player. "I've always said he is not a proven international player but I want him to step up and I think he can do that and be a regular international player," Houllier said. "There is a different level between the Premier League and international football. He is a clever player, he has the desire to win, he works hard, makes goals."

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