VILLA RECORD A VICTORY AT BLACKBURN

Aston Villa secured a huge morale boosting win against Blackburn Rovers to progress to the next round of the FA Cup. Ciaran Clark nodded Villa ahead but Rovers were quickly level as Nikola Kalinic bundled home from close range.

Veteran winger Pires restored Villa's lead with a sweet half-volley before Nathan Delfouneso's header made it 3-1.

Martin Olsson fired against the bar for Rovers but, even after Villa had Nathan Baker sent off for a wild tackle, Blackburn rarely threatened a comeback.

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VILLA TO SIGN TWO PLAYERS

Aston Villa are reportedly close to signing two players in the January transfer window. Houllier will fly to France to speak to Lyon about the prospects of capturing the 27-year-old Cameroon player.

"He can play as a holding player or as a box-to-box midfielder," Houllier said. "We are working on [the deal]."

Houllier also remains interested in signing Blackpool captain Charlie Adam after making an improved £3.5m bid.

Villa have also been linked to Nicolas Anelka and Ryan Babel.

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HOULLIER CONFIDENT

Gerard Houllier has said that he is still confident that the team can come back from their bad run of form. Villa boss Gerard Houllier remained upbeat despite the defeat leaving his side hovering dangerously four points above the relegation zone.

"I think it is a poor result, but not a poor performance," the Frenchman told BBC Sport.

"The mistake was made was conceding a second goal, after that we knew it was difficult. We got a goal and probably deserved an equaliser which we didn't get. "

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HOULLIER PRAISES VILLA FANS

Gerard Houllier has praised the Aston Villa fans for providing plenty of support against West Brom. The under-fire manager was given a surprisingly warm reception from the Holte End as Stewart Downing and Stephen Ireland grabbed the goals that sunk their Midlands rivals.

Houllier had angered some fans after his comments following Aston Villa's 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on Monday but the home crowd were with the Frenchman and his team as they ended their four-match losing streak.

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CESC RULED OUT OF VILLA TRIP

Cesc Fabregas will most out on the Arsenal match with Aston Villa. Emmanuel Eboue is also set to be for several weeks with a medial knee ligament injury after being felled by a poor tackle.

Manager Arsene Wenger said: "Fabregas has a hamstring injury so it's difficult to predict how long he will be out for. But he will definitely be out for the weekend. Hence, he will surely miss the match against Aston Villa.

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DUNNE CONCERN FOR VILLA

Richard Dunne is a source for great concern for Aston Villa as they prepare to face Blackburn Rovers in the Carling Cup. The third-round encounter at Villa Park on Wednesday will be Gerard Houllier's first game in charge after he officially took over the reins on Monday.

However, the former Liverpool boss could be without influential defender Richard Dunne, who is struggling with a leg injury. Dunne was replaced by Carlos Cuellar at half-time of Saturday's 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers and may miss out against Blackburn.

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MACDONALD HEADING VILLA SHORTLIST

Kevin MacDonald is heading a five-man shortlist for Aston Villa manager's job after an interview in the Aston Villa Hospitality section. The other contenders all possess greater Premier League experience but, after 15 years working in various coaching capacities at Villa Park, MacDonald boasts some significant supporters inside the club, including key players.

VILLA KEEN ON KEANE

Aston Villa are in talks with Tottenham over the sale of striker Robbie Keane. O'Neill is apparently being urged to step up his pursuit of the Republic of Ireland star by defender Richard Dunne, a team-mate of Keane's at international level.

However, Aston Villa could face competition for the Irishman as Celtic are also believed to be pursuing Keane. The Bhoys, for whom he scored 16 goals last season while on loan from Spurs, are reportedly keen to sign him on another loan deal at Parkhead.

VILLA 3 IN ENGLAND SQUAD

ASTON VILLA will have three players in England's final World Cup squad.

As expected, Emile Heskey and James Milner made it into the final 23 for the flight to South Africa.

But more surprising was Fabio Capello's decision to pick Stephen Warnock as one of his defenders ahead of Everton's Leighton Baines.

The only other Midlands representation comes in the form of Joe Hart, who rocketed into the the England squad on the back of an excellent season at Birmingham City before returning to Manchester City.

O'Neill Plans Lerner talks

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has called upon the club to make further investment in the playing side and will meet with owner Randy Lerner next week where both parties will discuss the season gone by and potential changes for next term.

O'Neill has taken Villa to this season's League Cup final and FA Cup semi-final and although he has failed to produce any silverware this campaign, he believes he deserves more time to achieve greater success at the Birmingham-based side.

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