Gerard Houllier believes Aston Villa will reap the benefits of Emile Heskey's decision to quit international football with England.
And new Villa boss Houllier is backing the often maligned Heskey, who stepped down in the aftermath of the World Cup, to play a major role for the midlands club. Heskey impressed as a substitute during the midweek Carling Cup win over Blackburn, scoring once and setting up two goals for Ashley Young in a 3-1 success.
"He decided to stop his international career so now it means he can repeat games for us," said Houllier.
"The whole England team suffered (received criticism) for what happened in South Africa.
"But, if you remember the game against Germany, and I was at it, if the goal from Lampard had been allowed it would have been 2-2 at half-time.
"Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don't, but whatever you say about Emile he is a good man and a good player.
"I read a few things about what he said when he retired and it's very sensible what he said, that his time has gone now, he's 32-33, there are some young players coming through. Emile will be 100 per cent Villa and as the manager I am happy."
Houllier signed Heskey when Liverpool boss from Leicester a decade ago in an Â£11million deal and has no doubt he can still be a major force.
He said: "All strikers need confidence. They need to feel they have the backing of the manager, club and the fans. Emile probably needs that more than the others. I saw him play on September 4 in Jamie Carragher's testimonial.
"Gary McAllister (Villa assistant-manager) was also involved in that game and he said Emile has still got something about him. Trust me, I think he will do well for us."