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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Lambert plotting charm offensive

Published 22/08/2014 | 16:36

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Paul Lambert insists players will be won over by Aston Villa's ambition - as he plots more new signings

Paul Lambert insists players will be won over by Aston Villa's ambition - as he plots more new signings.

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The manager does not believe Villa's uncertain future has hit his transfer plans, ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Newcastle.

The club are up for sale and Lambert is working with a restricted budget but still wants another creative midfielder.

He could hand Joe Cole and £4.5million signing Carlos Sanchez their debuts against the Magpies and said he does not need to give targets the hard sell.

He told reporters: "Listen, no doubt about it, it's a massive club, the expectancy level is huge and I have got no worries on that whatsoever, on Aston Villa being a big draw for any footballer.

"The more success we can achieve or have, the stronger the hand we've got. We've got to get to that level, but regarding the club size and the facilities we've got, it's huge."

But Lambert will hold talks with new chief executive Tom Fox, after he joined form Arsenal this week, chairman Randy Lerner and chief financial officer Robin Russell to discuss the budget in the final week of the transfer window.

"I think Tom, Randy, myself and Robin will probably have a get together when Tom officially starts and ultimately the decision will be the chairman's on what's actually happening," he added.

"He's been great with me on that front and I'm pretty sure the four of us will get together at some point and talk about things."

Newcastle did the double over Villa last season and are searching for their first win of the season after losing to Manchester City last week

Villa have lost 19 home Premier League games under Lambert and the Scot is wary about the damage the Magpies could cause at Villa Park again.

"They're a good side in general, I thought they were a good side last year too," he said.

"It's a tough game against Manchester City at the best of times but to play them in the opening game is probably your best chance to try and get a result from them because they're not in their stride.

"They've always finished strongly and they've always been up there. It's a club with high expectancy levels, a bit like ourselves, but Alan (Pardew) has done a really good job there."

Jores Okore is also in contention after playing in an Under-21s game against Stoke on Monday. The defender suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury last September after just four appearances following his £4m arrival from FC Nordsjaelland. Strikers Christian Benteke (Achilles) and Libor Kozak (broken leg) remain sidelined.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has admitted the club is closely monitoring the transfer market amid speculation that they could yet receive a substantial bid for key midfielder Cheick Tiote.

Pardew has no desire to see the 28-year-old Ivory Coast international, who has three years remaining on his contract, leave St James' Park this summer and indeed is planning to welcome him back to training after a hamstring injury next week and subsequently, into his starting line-up.

However, having seen striker Andy Carroll sold to Liverpool for an eye-watering £35million in January 2011 within weeks of his arrival on Tyneside, he knows he can never say never.

Asked if there is a contingency plan in place, Pardew said: "Yes. I've got the Andy Carroll experience here, and that's one of the benefits of being here for four years.

"But I never think that you can be safe with a player if you're not in the Champions League. Even if you're in it, now there are clubs who can go and poach from there, which has been proven in this window.

"You've got to be on your toes at all times and I have to say, I think we have been, this year in particular, really on the button on transfers.

"I've seen some inflated prices this week and that's worrying with nine days to go."

Tiote has been linked with Barclays Premier League rivals Arsenal in recent weeks, but the latest speculation involves Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow.

It is understood Lokomotiv had a bid or around £4million rejected earlier this month, and Pardew confirmed that no club yet had come anywhere near presenting Newcastle with a tough decision.

He said: "I'm not exactly sure who bid. I heard there were a couple of derisory offers - and I mean way short of his valuation - and therefore we've not really entertained any serious thought of him leaving.

"We have all speculation about our players, we have had it in the past. Some of it carries weight - there were a lot of rumours last season with [Yohan] Cabaye and PSG and it happened, so I'm always open-minded about it.

"I'm a big fan of Cheick, I love the way he plays and the passion he plays with and he's been an important part of the success here. The players we've got round him this year will highlight his game a little bit more.

"He will train with us next week and I'm confident as I can be with any player that he will stay. "

Tiote will not be involved in the squad for Saturday's trip to Aston Villa as he continues his recovery, but summer signing Siem De Jong will be having returned to fitness after a foot problem.

However, the news of full-back Davide Santon, who underwent knee surgery during the summer, is less positive.

Pardew said: "It's not good news. When the surgeon looked at his knee there was a little bit more damage than we thought. That now looks like mid-November now rather than October."

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