The American owner had been reluctant to spend in January but is aware that Villa's situation is becoming critical. He watched this damaging defeat to Southampton on television in the US and is understood to be growing increasingly concerned at the slide that has deposited Lambert's side in the relegation zone.
Lerner, however, is not prepared to fork out substantial amounts of money after spending over £200m in six years and Lambert has been told he cannot bring in loan signings as the owner is not prepared to pay the wages of players at other clubs.
The pressure is undoubtedly on Villa to act and the financial implications of relegation are seriously grave for Lerner, even though he sold NFL franchise Cleveland Browns for an estimated £620m last year.
From 38 games they have recorded only 30 points, failed to score in their last four home games in the league, and their goal difference is the worst in the division.
Villa's back four and two holding midfielders had an average age of 22 against Southampton and were frequently exposed in another painful afternoon.
Rickie Lambert's 10th goal of the season, from the spot, ensured the visitors have taken six points from Villa this season and extended their recent revival. (© Daily Telegraph, London)