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Houllier hopes Villa can keep Liverpool target Downing

Former Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier hopes they can keep hold of Liverpool target Stewart Downing.

Downing still has two years left on his contract and Houllier believes it is vital Villa hang onto him following last season's resurgence.

"From a club's point of view and a manager's point of view obviously you want to keep that sort of player - he's so rare," Houllier told the Sunday Mercury.

"He can use both feet and has got much skill. He was voted player of the year by his team-mates and the fans, that tells you everything.

"I personally think he improved a lot under our regime. He's a footballer, he's got flair and he's hardworking.

"He can play on the side and in the middle. He's very versatile, but also does his job. When sometimes it's a bit stormy and you have to have someone who helps defending then he can do that job as well. I'm not surprised that so many clubs are after him."

 It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Aston Villa transfer market news and gossip.

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