The Guardian are reporting that Fulham remain confident that Mark Hughes will stay at Craven Cottage and believe he will sign a two-year contract despite interest from Aston Villa.

Villa have moved quickly to replace Gerard Houllier, whose departure from Villa Park on health grounds was announced earlier this evening, and Hughes is high on their shortlist. Fulham feel that Hughes wants to try and build on their strong Premier League showing and is excited by the prospect of European football returning to the Cottage. The key paragraphs in the Guardian’s report are as follows:

Hughes is the favourite at this stage, although Fulham are bullish about their chances of holding on to the former Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers manager. They believe Hughes is keen to build on his first season at Craven Cottage, which culminated in an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League and qualification for the Europa League, and expect the lengthy discussions about a new contract to end with him pledging his future to the club.

It is understood, however, that there is a clause in Hughes’s current deal, which the 47-year-old was able to activate from and would allow him to walk away from Fulham for a small amount of compensation. Although sources close to Hughes have suggested he is enjoying living in London, there is also a feeling he would be attracted to the prospect of managing a club such as Villa, who have a bigger fanbase and greater spending power.