And it was reported during the week that
Dunne reacted angrily
to being dropped for the West Brom game and being stripped of the club captaincy.
I had a lot of players who either had not played for a long time or needed a game
But Houllier said: "There was not an incident with Richard Dunne. Not at all. I took a football decision not to play him and [Carlos] Cuellar came in and did extremely well and he will be playing
And Houllier insisted that playing some of his out-of-favour senior players in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Leicester was not a punishment but was intended to help them maintain match fitness.
"It is not a punishment when you play a behind-closed-doors game to help players keep their fitness," he added.
"It is a punishment when you don't play at all, when you are left out, but I had a lot of players who either had not played for a long time or needed a game to restart like Nigel Reo-Coker.
"We wanted to have that game. We would probably have done it a week or two earlier but because of the snow we couldn't do it so it was an ideal opportunity to have it with Leicester.
"Robert Pires, John Carew, Nathan Delfouneso, Stephen Ireland; all those not involved for a long time played that game. Some we gave 70-80 minutes, others played the full game.
"It was just an ideal means of training and keeping the match fitness because the problem is the reserves don't have many games and, because of the weather, a lot of games have been called off."
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