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  Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 21:55 GMT
Houllier relishes Auxerre test
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
Houllier holds Guy Roux in high esteem
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier faces a return to France after the Reds were paired against Auxerre in the fourth round of the Uefa Cup.

Houllier is relishing the task of pitting his wits against his good friend Guy Roux, the Auxerre manager.

A quarter-final against Celtic awaits the winners if Liverpool are successful and the Bhoys beat Stuttgart.

"Guy and I have known each other for over 25 years," said Houllier.

"A year ago we were in the same hotel in Corsica for rehabilitation; he had had a bypass and I had my problems.

"It was very strange but we spent Christmas together.

"When I was in the Second Division we met Auxerre in the cup, I think maybe in December 1978.

"It's a special game, I've been waiting for five years to play a French team since I came here and we draw the only French team left.

"And it's against a manager I respect a lot. He has done a great job there.

"The two sides are very similar, both young sides full of energy. It's a very exciting draw."

Liverpool and Celtic met in the first round of the Uefa Cup in 1997 when they drew 2-2 at Parkhead, thanks to Steve McManaman's last-gasp equaliser.

The return leg at Anfield finished scoreless with Liverpool going through on the away-goals rule.

"There would be some atmosphere in the the two games if we were to play Celtic," said Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry.

"But we should concentrate on winning the Auxerre ties before thinking about that."


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