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Republic of Ireland star Ciaran Clark gives boss Lambert food for thought


Aston Villa's Christian Benteke

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke

Paul Lambert has tipped Irish central defender Ciarán Clark and Jores Okore to push for regular first-team football, even when Aston Villa solve their defensive injury crisis.

Okore and Clark forged a resilient central defensive pairing in Villa's 1-0 Premier League victory at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.

The makeshift duo battled manfully amid the continued absence of long-term injury trio Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker.

Lambert hailed Okore for adapting quickly after his return from 14 months battling knee ligament trouble, admitting hopes the 22-year-old can continue to thrive alongside Clark.

"Our defensive effort was terrific at Selhurst Park," said Lambert.

"Okore and Clark worked very well together, Alan Hutton was outstanding too, and with (Brad) Guzan and (Aly) Cissokho formed a strong unit there.

"For Okore it's his third game in quick succession, and he's been out for more than a year.

"And I think Ciaran Clark certainly: the two of them have certainly stepped up their game.

"That's the aim of football, to have selection conundrums, and those two are going to give me that when others return."