Thursday 22 February 2018

Wembley dream motivates Lambert

Phil Barnett

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes reaching a Wembley final this season would be an "absolutely phenomenal" achievement for his young side.

Villa have experienced mixed fortunes so far in what is a transitional first season under Lambert, with top-flight experience at a premium in the Scot's squad.

The starting line-up against Swansea recently had an average age of just 23 years and 120 days with a number of players having been brought through the academy or recruited from the lower leagues.

They currently sit two places and one point above the Premier League relegation zone, but there remains a feel-good factor around Villa Park, not least with the team in the FA Cup fourth round and two matches away from a possible place in the League Cup final.

They meet Bradford at Valley Parade in the first leg of that semi-final tonight knowing they are heavy favourites to overcome the League Two outfit. Regardless of the level of opposition, though, Lambert knows reaching the final would be huge for the club.

"For this club to get to Wembley again would be extraordinary," he said. "In a one-off game there, you just never know what could happen."

Bradford are without a win in their last three games but Lambert knows they will dig in and come up with another 10pc for the two-legged tie.

"The Bradford lads will give it everything they have got to try to turn us over. If we do what we have been doing of late, then we'll see what happens.

"I've been up there before and it will be a tough game for us. But if we play how we have been of late, we'll see."

Saturday's 2-1 win over Ipswich in the FA Cup third round saw the return from injury of established stars like Darren Bent, Charles N'Zogbia and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

"They came through it fantastically well and that was probably the major plus from Saturday. Along with the result that was the most pleasing thing."

Lambert will be without Marc Albrighton (metatarsal), while Ashley Westwood, Ron Vlaar and Richard Dunne are still unavailable.

Bradford City v Aston Villa,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Irish Independent

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