Hero Young close to new Villans deal
Ashley Young is on the verge of signing a new long-term contract with Aston Villa, with a four-year deal on the table for him at Villa Park. Villa boss Gerard Houllier confirmed that Young will be tying up his new deal "sooner rather than later", and he is expected to commit for four years. Young, who has just under two years left of his current contract, has started the season in sparkling form. He has effectively switched from the wing into a second striker role behind Emile Heskey. When asked about Young's new contract, Houllier said: "The good news should come early, sooner rather than later." Young will tomorrow line up against Tottenham who were linked with trying to sign the player from Villa during the summer. Houllier has challenged him to take his game to another level so he becomes an England regular rather than a squad player. The former Liverpool boss said: "Ashley, to me, has international qualities. "He is clever, reads the game well, works hard, is quick, has got quick feet, can score goals, make goals, takes part in movements to prepare goals. "Whether he can play for the national team is not down to me to say yes or no. "All I know is that we want the player to step up another level because he is on the fringe of the international team. "I want him to be a regular player (for England). "If you are happy with your game, you are not going to improve. You will stay at the same level and then some players will overtake you. "But his involvement and dedication to what he does at training is really a good sign for the future for him." Houllier has been impressed with the form of midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker whose days at Villa had looked numbered after a falling-out with former manager Martin O'Neill. Reo-Coker has been reinstated in his preferred central midfield role and was one of Villa's best players in last weekend's 2-1 win over Wolves at Molineux. The 26-year-old is out of contract next summer and, although Houllier believes it is too early to talk about a new deal, he has been happy with his contribution. Houllier said: "I didn't know Nigel was at the end of the contract (next summer). "But I've been here two weeks, he has played two games. He is in the team. "It is too early to say whether he will sign a new contract or not but he brings something specific to the team which we needed. "I know he had problems with the previous manager but sometimes that happens." Houllier is a big admirer of Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp and the job he has done in bringing Champions League football to White Hart Lane. But he stressed the importance of his own team not being overawed by the opposition. Houllier said: "I saw them against FC Twente and they were impressive at times. "It is a good attacking side and they really seem to enjoy their football. They finished fourth in the Premier League last season and have started well in the Champions League group. "They are full of confidence but we will travel to them and give it our best shot. "Sometimes the press talk more about the opposition. I came across that a couple of times (at Liverpool). "Because of the name and prestige of the opposition, Milan or Barcelona, the press would talk more about them and forget about us. "It was building up in the minds of the players that we were playing a monster or something very big. "But if we are at that stage of the competition it is also because we have qualities and you have still got a chance, whatever the name of the opposition." Houllier added: "I wanted to see Tottenham because they are a very good side but, when you see them, you see their strengths and weaknesses and football is about that. "It is not just about seeing what problems teams can pose to you - but what you can pose to them."
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