Aston Villa V Sheff Utd at Villa Park : Match Preview
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Lowton shows enthusiasm for FA Cup
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert struggles to drum up much enthusiasm for the third round of the FA Cup, but Matthew Lowton believes it represents a chance to get Villa Park "rocking" once again.
Asked by BBC West Midlands on Thursday whether this weekend's fixtures were something top-flight clubs would rather avoid, the Scot said: "If they were being honest, they probably would do. It is realistic, that is the nature of it.
"If anyone says any differently then I am not so sure they will be telling the truth because the Premier League is the most vital thing that anyone wants to get into and we are no different."
His comments will do little to add to the magic of the cup when Sheffield United visit on Saturday, while Lambert's apparent dismissal of last season's charge to the last four Capital One Cup also acted as something of a dampener.
Addressing a pre-match press conference, he added: "We got knocked out in the semi-final, we may as well have got knocked out in the first round.
"I probably don't buy into the 'great cup run'. If you're in it you may as well try to win it which we didn't do."
But if that assessment leaves Villa fans cold, then versatile defender Lowton is on hand to offer the alternative view.
"We did it last year in the other cup and there's no reason why we can't do the same now, have a great cup run and get the fans going," he told AVTV.
"I remember the semi-final at Villa Park last season (a penalty shootout defeat to Bradford) and it was rocking, the atmosphere was unbelievable.
"You see how much it means to them to have a good cup run and hopefully we can start by getting into the next round on Saturday.
"It's a great opportunity to get a win at home in front of our fans. A good chance to give them something to cheer about."
The prospect of making an impact on the cup is not the only reason for Lowton's excitement, though.
The Chesterfield-born 24-year-old started his career at Bramall Lane before leaving the Blades when Lambert paid around B#3million for his services 18 months ago.
"We were on the way back from an away game (during the third round draw) and I got a phone call from my brother. He was laughing when I answered so I thought it must have been a tasty draw. I had to smile," he said.
"For personal reasons the club is very close to my heart and it's good to play them in a massive cup game.
"I still speak to a few of the boys who were there when I was and I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Sheffield United pair Jose Baxter and Stephen McGinn are doubtful.
Both striker Baxter and midfielder McGinn sustained ankle injuries in the New Year's Day defeat at Walsall and were forced out of the action in the second half.
Jamie Murphy replaced McGinn and Shaun Miller went on for Baxter, so those two will be hoping to start, while midfielder Conor Coady will play the last game of his loan spell before returning to Liverpool, although talks are on-going regarding an extension.
Boss Nigel Clough has no other new injury or suspension worries as his side bid to bounce back from their first loss in nine.
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