Lambert prioritises Spurs clash
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has admitted Saturday's Barclays Premier League showdown with Manchester City is his priority as he prepares his side for Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash with Tottenham.
Lambert is likely to rest a number of his star names for the knockout tie after a gruelling start to the season which is due to continue at the weekend against Manuel Pellegrini's in-form side.
Christian Benteke is almost certain to sit out after suffering a shoulder injury in last Saturday's 1-0 win at Norwich, with his replacement and goalscorer Libor Kozak pushing for a start.
Gabriel Agbonlahor and Antonio Luna could also be rested after returning from injury issues against the Canaries, with Lambert acknowledging his side's tough start to the season has taken its toll.
Lambert told his club's official website: "We've played really hard teams in this opening spell - three teams you think will be round about there in Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, and now we've got two more tough ones.
"The main one is Saturday but we'll do our best to get through the Tottenham tie."
Lambert named a relatively strong side for the 3-0 win over Rotherham in the last round but is conscious of keeping his first-choice stars fresh with the big City game approaching.
Other changes are expected to see Jed Steer once again replacing Brad Guzan in goal, while Nicklas Helenius and Yacouba Sylla could step into the starting-line up after being substitutes at the weekend.
Of particular concern to Lambert will be the fitness of Agbonlahor and Luna, who played against the Canaries despite only training for part of last week, and are unlikely to be risked again so soon.
Lambert added: "Gabby only trained for the latter part of the week, as did Antonio Luna. These are two big players for us, and they wanted to give it a go."
Andre Villas-Boas believes his Tottenham side face an impossible task and that they have not been given a fair crack at the competition due to fixture congestion.
Spurs travel to Villa Park on Tuesday for the third-round clash, barely 48 hours after their 1-0 Premier League win at Cardiff.
The game will take place on Tuesday due to Birmingham and West Brom being at home to Swansea and Arsenal respectively on Wednesday, and concerns over the potential impact on crowd safety due to policing demands.
Villas-Boas understands the reasoning, but it has done little to improve his mood.
"This is an impossible game for us to play, but hopefully our team spirit and motivation can get us through," he said.
"It (the Capital One Cup) is not our absolute number one priority but I don't think we have been given a fair chance to play in this competition this year.
"It could be possible for the players who played against Cardiff to play this game, but I am not sure I want to risk the players who played getting a hamstring injury which could take them six weeks to recover from when the Premier League is more important.
"This team has not experienced having to play again after just two days and we have not been given the same chance as the other teams. So we will have to rotate our squad as the players who played in Cardiff will not be involved.
"We are struggling a little bit with injuries but we have great strength in depth, although it is not going to be easy."
The Portuguese feels the extra 24 hours Villa have had to recover and prepare could prove decisive.
"It is difficult, the ideal situation for us would have been to play Wednesday," he said. "I understand the situation for the police with a number of matches being played in Birmingham, but we do not have the same chance as other teams.
"Villa will not have to do the same (in terms of squad rotation) as they played on Saturday, so they have had an extra day of recovery."
One man who will definitely not play a part is defender Danny Rose, while striker Jermain Defoe is a doubt with a groin problem.