Houllier - Key duo will stay
Gerard Houllier insists Darren Bent's supply line of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young won't be sold.
Last Updated: 18/01/11 9:51pm
Gerard Houllier insists that Darren Bent's supply line will remain intact and Stewart Downing and Ashley Young will not be sold.
The Villa boss was adamant that the highly-rated midfielders are not going anywhere during the January transfer window and will be linking up with new arrival Bent on Saturday against Manchester City.
Houllier was full of praise for his new striker, signalling that the £18million club-record signing is part of the club's long-term plans going forward.
Villa fans will hope that the former Sunderland favourite can quickly find his scoring form as Villa sit one place above the relegation zone on goal difference and will have been heartened by Houllier's stance on two other key men.
"They [Downing and Young] are not for sale - as simple as that. Whether it's Stewart or Ashley, they won't be leaving. They are rumours," said Houllier.
"We are absolutely delighted to have Darren here because we know he will be a tremendous asset for the months and years ahead.
"We brought him here to spearhead our efforts and to help build something strong and lasting at our club. Darren's arrival is a key element of our football strategy and philosophy.
"There are not many young English players who have the pedigree and the finishing class that Darren has shown over a number of years in the Premier League.
"This is a great day for our fans, this is a major milestone for Aston Villa football club. His arrival sends out a clear message about the ambitions of this club.
Houllier was quick to point out that the arrival of Bent was not a reaction to his side's league position, insisting the striker had already been on the club's radar.
"It's not a panic buy, in fact we have been talking about him for a long time with the chairman and the chief executive and he was in our plan and one of our priorities," added Houllier.
"Regarding his debut. All I can say is that he has a good habit, that when he starts somewhere, he scores. Maybe a warning to Roberto Mancini and Manchester City, but if he starts, maybe he will score."