Dunne and Ireland injury doubts as Houllier prepares to shuffle his pack
Gerard Houllier is poised to shuffle his pack for Wednesday's Carling Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers - and the Villa boss could be without Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland for his first game in charge.
Dunne looks certain to miss out on the third round tie because of an ongoing knee problem while Ireland is a doubt after picking up a dead leg in training.
Houllier revealed he is likely to make several changes from Saturday's 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers, as the 63-year-old seeks the opportunity to look at his squad.
But the manager is determined to advance in the Carling Cup, insisting whatever team he puts out will be up for the tie.
"I don't think Richard Dunne will be able to play this game and probably the next one [against Wolves]," said the Frenchman.
"Stephen got a bad dead leg in training this morning. I don't know if he'll be able to play - I hope so for him and for us.
"He was doubtful because he limped off but he says he normally recuperates very quickly.
"I would say practically half the team will be rested and the other half will be playing with some very good players.
"We are lucky here at Aston Villa in that we have a good, comprehensive squad of players.
"We know we can't reach the final every year but we will do everything we can to try to win it. I have feelings to do that.
"Obviously we had to split the group in training - one team was preparing for Blackburn with the other was probably more orientated towards the Wolves game.
"That means obviously I will rotate some players. All teams probably rotate with their players for the third round. It's not a lesser side - it's a good side.
"I don't know what Blackburn will do and what team they will field. All I know is we are up for it.
"We are really eager to win this game. I would settle for a win and qualification [for round four]."
Houllier is raring to go for his first match in the claret and blues hotseat.
The former Liverpool and Lyon chief expects a tough start against a solid Rovers side but he feels the League Cup presents Villa with an exciting opportunity.
"I am looking forward to Blackburn but it's not the best way to start - with a cup game where you need to rotate a bit with some players," he added.
"Some are injured and others have had international commitments so it's better to rotate some players.
"But it's a cup game at home and let's go for it because a win and another win and then you're practically in the semi-final and then who knows, Wembley.
"It will be tough. It will always be a tough game against Blackburn. We will be up for it though, no problem."
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