By Paul Brown
Gerard Houllier plans to unleash John Carew on top-flight defences in the coming weeks - and wants to see the striker who on his day is "absolutely awesome and practically impossible to stop."
Houllier will turn to the powerful Norwegian forward in Emile Heskey's absence, starting with Fulham at Craven Cottage at the weekend.
Heskey is ruled out for between three and four weeks after injuring his knee in training.
The Villa boss, gutted at the loss of Heskey, has been thrilled to see Carew's appetite and desire at peak levels in the past few days.
Houllier said: "John is a centre-forward. What you expect from a centre-forward is goals. He can do that.
"On his day he can be absolutely awesome - practically impossible to stop. We want the top John Carew that I know.
"It is a big opportunity for John to play a run of games. In training he's showing that he's got the appetite and the desire to do well.
"John, when he wants to, can be absolutely fantastic. I think a run of matches could help.
"John is at the end of his contract. It is an opportunity to express what he wants - whether he wants to stay at the club or whether he wants to go somewhere else.
"But in both cases I would say he has got to be at his best to be in the shop window.
"From what I've seen in training he is enjoying his football and looks extremely good.
"There's no talk about a contract yet. I want to see people. We'll see about that after Christmas."
Meanwhile Houllier revealed he is a little relieved Heskey's absence has only a one month timescale after initially fearing the powerful forward had sustained a more serious injury.
The Villa boss was concerned Heskey's problem was the mirror image of that picked up by Stiliyan Petrov.
He continued: "Emile is having an arthroscopic operation.
"He tried to volley the ball and he did but then his other leg, his supporting one, just twisted.
"I thought it was a cruciate the way he fell. It's just the meniscus that's the problem. But it's the medial. When it's lateral it can be two or three months but when it's the medial it is one month.
"I thought it was like Stiliyan's when he did it on his own, but hopefully it's not too serious.
"He was a bit down because he's been doing well. He had a good training session in the morning. Whenever he has been playing the team has scored more goals - he or the team.
"John's now got to take that up and be in charge because he will be playing."
Houllier also revealed Heskey's sudden injury had ruled out any chance of starlet Nathan Delfouneso going out on loan - something that had been considered up until the striker's knee issue occurring.
He added: "I explained to him that it is not possible for us.
"I said if I could give him maybe one month's loan like Curtis then I would have done that, but now it is not possible.
"He's very young. You've got to be patient with the young, but I think he needs to be a man with muscle if you know what I mean.
"It is a mental thing. He doesn't have to bulk up. He just needs to be a bit stronger to withstand the pressure of pushing and shoving and things like that.
"He's younger than Barry, Ciaran and Marc, but he trains with the pros every day. He's not with the reserves, he's with us and he'll be travelling."