Houllier confident in players

Gerard Houllier has absolute confidence that the mental strength of his players will drive Liverpool out of their dreadful slump.

Gerard Houllier has absolute confidence that the mental strength of his players will drive Liverpool out of their dreadful slump.

Houllier’s men meet Aston Villa in tomorrow night’s Worthington Cup quarter-final on the back of just one Premiership point from a possible 18.

And after their luckless trip to Sunderland on Sunday they have been hit by a further blow with the news that influential midfielder Dietmar Hamann will be sidelined for a fortnight.

But Houllier says his squad’s attitude has remained first class through all their setbacks and he expects an imminent change in fortune.

Houllier said: “I know the mental strength of the players and the way they stick together will get us through.

“We are extremely hurt and we felt a lot of pain after the Sunderland defeat because we didn’t think we deserved to leave the stadium with nothing.

“We have got the players and the quality and we have got the mental stamina.

“I am still trying to find the solution but I have full trust and confidence in my players and their ability to keep faith in themselves.

“This is a very difficult period but the fans are helping the boys to keep their chins up. It is a test for our nerves and our character.”

Tomorrow’s Worthington Cup encounter provides Liverpool with the opportunity to temporarily shunt their Premiership problems to one side.

But Houllier will name his strongest available side and, as well as aiming for another trip to Cardiff, he believes the game offers the ideal opportunity to put things right before the weekend’s Merseyside derby showdown.

He added: “We want to win every cup. The game is all about silverware and winning trophies is what the players think of.

“The good thing about being a successful side is that you are in lots of tournaments and the lads have an opportunity to bounce back.

“The best preparation for the derby game is to play to our full potential and unleash all our power. We have a lot of frustration inside ourselves at the moment.”

Hamann will be sidelined with a shin problem which has recurred after he played through pain at the Stadium of Light.

But there is better news on Emile Heskey, who will be back involved after an ankle knock.

Houllier added: “I fear that Didi will be out for a couple of weeks and that is a blow because he’s a very experienced player and midfielder, and we need that at times.”

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