Saturday 23 September 2017

Houllier plays patient game with 'special' talent Ireland

Jamie Holland

Gerard Houllier is prepared to be patient in his approach to Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland.

Houllier decided to make public last month that he expects more from Ireland on the training pitch and during games.

The Villa boss believes Ireland still has more to give but recognises his "special" talent.

"I am very patient and I hope everyone is as patient as I am," said Houllier.

"His attitude is fine. I expect more than he is giving at the moment. He knows that.

"This is not an issue. I am prepared to talk about the team, not individuals.

"All I know is he has just come to the club. Whether he wanted to come to the club, I don't know.

"As a player, he has got something special. I like that. But his input has got to be better."

Ireland came to Villa at a cost of around £8m as part of the deal that saw James Milner head in the opposite direction to Manchester City back in August.

Struggled

He struggled to force his way into the side but was included in the starting XI for last weekend's 2-0 reversal at Blackburn.

Meanwhile, former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires is set to be involved against his former club at Villa Park.

"We signed Robert because we are not blessed with numbers in the midfield," said Houiller. "He has got an eye for a pass, good movement, intelligence, he was free.

"I'm not stupid. I know he has not got the same legs as four or five years ago. But he has got all the qualities and also he can help because we have a team of players who are spinning things around, rushing around everywhere.

"They play without fear and sometimes I think he will bring a bit more calm to the game."

Irish Independent

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