Barry Bannan insists the 'season starts now' for Aston Villa as they prepare for a run of what he believes are winnable games.
Villa have just taken on the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal in successive matches and collected a single point from a deserved goalless home draw against the Gunners on Saturday. But they next face Reading on Wednesday evening, visit QPR on Saturday and host Stoke the following weekend - matches Bannan believes are winnable.
The Scotland midfielder said: "We want to be higher up the table and it is not worked out that way but we are not even halfway through the season.
"We've just played three massive teams in the league and it's been really tough. "We acquitted ourselves well but I think our season starts now with the games we've got up and coming.
"We all know in the changing room that they are winnable games so we are looking forward to the game on Tuesday night.
"In that changing room we've got quality. We're a bit young but I think we are confident in our own ability.
"Hopefully these games that are up and coming are winnable games and we can shoot up the table." But Bannan had promised Villa will not take promoted Reading lightly.
He said: "It's one of the best leagues in the world so you are not just going to turn up on Tuesday and turn teams over because they've just been promoted.
"They are going to be battling for their lives so it is going to be a tough game and we will show them the same respect as Arsenal. "With the team being young, there are going to be ups and downs in the season and it's just trying to find that consistency.
"But we've played really well in recent weeks and played good football although results haven't gone our way.
"We were 2-0 up against Manchester United and lost it after performing well for 60-65 minutes. "We've then more than held our own against another top team in Arsenal so we've taken a lot of positives from the games and will take them into Tuesday."
Bannan has re-established himself in the starting line-up in recent weeks and enjoys playing under Lambert.
He said: "I know there are people knocking on the door trying to get my position so I've got to keep performing at a high level every week.
"I just feel confident at the moment going out onto the pitch because the gaffer has given me that confidence by playing me for a certain amount of games.
"But I can always do better. I'm still young and trying to improve every day.
"I've been really impressed by the manager. He has brought in different ideas and we're a young squad and trying to adapt to certain ways.
"We are enjoying the style we are trying to play."
Villa captain Ron Vlaar is doubtful to face the Royals after the central defender suffered a calf injury against Arsenal and was substituted early in the second half. If he is ruled out, then Matt Lowton is likely to partner Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence with Eric Lichaj being recalled at right-back.