Gerard Houllier to return as Villa boss - McAllister

Gary McAllister expects Gerard Houllier to return from a health scare to resume managing Aston Villa.

McAllister has been in charge of the first team since Houllier, 63, was admitted to hospital on 20 April before being discharged nine days later.

"Most definitely," said McAllister when asked after Villa's 1-0 win over Liverpool if Houllier would be back.

"As far as I'm concerned, every indication is that Gerard is going to be back here. He's the manager."

The Midlands side beat the Reds courtesy of a first-half Stewart Downing strike to end a frustrating season in ninth place.

Villa winger Ashley Young clapped the applauding home fans as he was substituted in the 89th minute - but McAllister insisted the send-off did not mean the England international was leaving the club in the summer.

"He had cramp," said the Scot. "It wasn't a case of him getting a standing ovation because it was his last game. The facts are he had cramp and had to get off.

"I can fully understand people being interested in Ashley and there is the lure of the Champions League but we are going to try to convince him to stay here and maybe one or two signings might change his mind, so we live in hope."

Liverpool were beaten to a Europa League spot by Tottenham and manager Kenny Dalglish blamed their failure to qualify for European competition for the first time since 1999 on the side's poor early-season form.

"[The reason] we did not qualify for Europe [was not] because we lost a game today [against Villa] - it was because we had a bad start to the season," said Dalglish, who took over as Reds boss from Roy Hodgson in January.

"If you start as badly as that you are lucky to be sixth come the end of it.

"To get so close is a great compliment to the players. I'm disappointed we didn't finish on a high as they've [the players] done fantastic to get as far as they have done."

Dalglish was left counting the toll of the season on his squad after a campaign which began last July with Europa League qualifiers.

He was without striker Andy Carroll against Villa because of a knee injury, while defender Glen Johnson and midfielder Maxi Rodriguez also missed out because of respective hamstring and adductor problems.

Midfielder Jay Spearing had to be substituted after 12 minutes because of an ankle injury and his replacement Jonjo Shelvey appeared to aggravate a knee problem.

Carroll and Spearing are now major doubts for the England Under-21 squad to play in this summer's European Championships in Denmark.

"I think they [the players] ran out of legs and we ran out of players," added Dalglish.

"There were players that played who probably shouldn't have played.

"Jonjo Shelvey shouldn't have played more than 20-25 minutes and I think his knee will be painful in the morning - and Jay's ankle will certainly be.

"Andy's not been able to sustain any reasonable time in training and it would have been irresponsible of us to bring him.

"We played him last week [against Tottenham] but it was unfair on him that we did ask him to play.

"I didn't think we should risk the boy's fitness by bringing him. Although we've not got any games, it's important they're all back fit in July.

"It's the same with Glen and Maxi - it's better to miss this game than pre-season training.

"I don't think any of them will need surgery.

"Maybe the end of the season has come at the right time for us - I might have been in the side next week."