Villa chairman Lerner aiming to keep Delph and Vlaar
Randy Lerner is ready to resist any offers for Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar in the January transfer window even though it will mean losing them for free next summer.
The Aston Villa chairman has assured Paul Lambert that he is not prepared to sanction the sales of the two key players despite their futures remaining uncertain.
Delph and Vlaar are both out of contract in June and already on the radar of rival Premier League clubs, but Villa will turn down any offers for the pair in the new year.
Relegation would be a nightmare scenario for Lerner, with the club still up for sale, and he recognises that losing Delph and Vlaar would significantly weaken the squad ahead of a likely fourth successive battle for survival.
Delph has been offered a new deal worth £50,000 a week but Villa are growing increasingly resigned to the midfielder leaving in the summer on a free transfer. He is not expected to return until late next month after suffering a dislocated shoulder and Villa are focusing only on him returning to boost their squad.
Vlaar, the Villa captain, is considering a contract offer with a number of Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Arsenal, monitoring his situation.
Villa are considering taking up their option to sign Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley permanently in January, with a £7.5m fee already agreed.
Lambert is likely to recall Gabby Agbonlahor for today's match against West Ham as Christian Benteke starts a three-match ban.
Gabby Agbonlahor, who was dropped for the game, is likely to come straight back into the team as the Belgian's replacement at Upton Park.