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Barnsley 19:45 A Villa

Houllier - Villa still united

Villa boss insists team fully committed after spa spat

Last Updated: 18/03/11 1:49pm

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Houllier: Happy with Villa focus

Houllier: Happy with Villa focus

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Gerard Houllier insists Aston Villa's team spirit has not been hit by the bust-up involving Richard Dunne and James Collins.

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The defensive duo are understood to have been fined two weeks' wages after confronting coaching staff during a team-bonding session at a health spa in Leicestershire last week.

Yet Houllier believes the two-day exercise was a success and claims his side are in the right frame of mind ahead of Saturday's Midlands derby at home to Wolves.

"I don't think team morale has been affected," said the Villa boss.

"As far as I am concerned, the rest of the team trained well and is ready and prepared for the Wolves game.

"We need to keep that (the incident) to one side and prepare for the Wolves game and the rest of the season. The rest of the team enjoyed the two days and it was a good exercise in terms of commitment, energy and enjoyment.

Will to win

"It is an important game for us. We are at home, we've got our fans, it's a derby and players know what a derby represents for the fans.

"The nine games we have got left will be played with the same quality in terms of commitment and will to win."

Houllier believes there will be more pressure on Wolves than Villa going into the game.

Mick McCarthy's men are second-bottom in the Premier League but just two points from safety and a rare victory over Villa would put them just a point behind their hosts.

"Wolves are a good team, I like Mick McCarthy and he has done extremely well," Houllier said.

"His side have beaten some big guns like Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. But I think there is more [pressure] on them than on us.

"We know the position we are in at the moment but we are not going to forecast on what is at stake. It is best to concentrate on our assets and the table will take care of itself."

Defensive problems

Dunne, Collins and Luke Young are all unavailable through injury while Ciaran Clark begins a two-game ban but Houllier played down talk of a defensive crisis.

"That happens to all clubs, even Manchester United," he added. "Sometimes you have an injury crisis.

"We had that in the middle of the season with Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell out from midfield.

"Now it happens at the back and the suspension of Clark doesn't help. But we will be all right. The options we have will be good and the players will respond positively and will show something.

"In any case, defending is not about two or three players, it is the matter of the whole team. At the top level, your defending starts wherever you lose the ball, wherever it is on the pitch."

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