Houllier expects Ireland to leave

But Houllier believes Villa will want to recoup the ¦pound;8million valuation placed by Manchester City on Ireland as part of the deal which saw James Milner move to Eastlands in the summer. Houllier has held a further meeting with Ireland and his representative with the player making it clear he feels his future lies elsewhere.

Asked if the player might leave in the winter transfer window, Houllier replied: "He said he wanted to go in January. He said that to his agent. I am not so convinced about that. Have I told him to move? No, no, no. Once a player wants to go, he goes. Simple as that."

He added: "I think we will be looking to get the same kind of money back. The club probably would."

Ireland was left out of the matchday squad for last Saturday's derby with West Brom and has also been excluded for this weekend's clash at Wigan.

Houllier made it clear soon after arriving at Villa three months ago that he wanted Ireland to "work harder".

He has always recognised the talent of Ireland but it appears a parting of the ways could occur during the January transfer window.

When asked about the meeting with Ireland, Houllier said: "I don't know why you are asking me because, if you get the agent, he will tell you.

"I said he is a member of my squad, that I expect him to be performing a bit more when we play games, that is all. There is a discrepancy between what I see in training sometimes and what I see in the games.

"I told his agent that is his problem, he has got to sort that out. I like the man, I like the player, he has got a skilled touch, he has got an eye for the pass, but he has got to adapt to modern football as well."

Source: PA

Source: PA