Downing and Young not for sale, insists Houllier

Gerard Houllier insists Aston Villa's star wing duo of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing will not be sold during the January transfer window.

And the Villa boss has called on his players to "stand up and be counted" ahead of tomorrow's daunting clash with champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Young and Downing have been linked with moves to Manchester United and Tottenham respectively during the past week.

But Houllier will only offload players he feels are not part of his plans and has been given the green light to bring in new signings next month by chairman Randy Lerner.

When asked if Downing and Young would be sold, Houllier said: "No. No way. Categorically no.

"The chairman reassured me (there will be money to spend) although I've got everyone coming back.

"But I can tell you that at some stage, if we need some players in, we will take them."

Houllier insists he is relishing the challenges lying ahead of him to re-establish Villa and transform their current fortunes.

"The road to success is never a simple one. It is never smooth and easy. Sometimes you get bumps and it is rocky at the moment for many reasons but we will get through it."