Lambert: Sylla's full of surprises
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insists there is much more to come from combative midfielder Yacouba Sylla.
Lambert took a gamble on Sylla when he shelled out £2million to pluck the 22-year-old out of the French Second Division, where he had been impressing for Clermont Foot, and chuck him into the intense heat of a Premier League relegation scrap.
"We needed to try and do something in January. We needed a bit of steel in midfield and managed to get Yacouba," said Lambert. "He was unknown. But when you bring someone to the club you want them to make an impact and try to do something to help the team. Yac has been excellent."
Handed his first start in four games, Sylla did not grab the headlines against Sunderland as Christian Benteke's hat-trick swept the Wearsiders aside.
Yet Lambert noted the energy and drive Sylla brought to Villa's midfield, which ensured their opponents never got a chance to settle and ultimately rocked them so badly Sunderland subsided to a miserable 6-1 defeat which keeps them in relegation bother.
Remarkably, of the eight matches Sylla has been involved in, Villa have won five, drawn two and lost just the one - against Liverpool.
Sylla has managed to make a positive contribution despite not being able to speak the same language as so many of his team-mates, which clearly makes communication difficult.
"He has tried to get a grip of the language, which is important," said Lambert.
"But every time I have asked him to perform he has done it.
"And the thing is, he only a kid. He is still learning, which bodes so well for the future."