Lambert to keep focus on youth
Paul Lambert will continue to focus on youth as he challenged his Aston Villa players to bounce back from the "hurt" of three heavy defeats.
Villa, who head for Swansea on New Year's Day, have conceded 15 goals in losing to Chelsea, Tottenham and Wigan and are only one point above the Premier League bottom three. Lambert splashed out nearly £23million last summer on rebuilding the squad after two successive battles against relegation. He would welcome the return of some of the senior players sidelined through injury which includes skipper Ron Vlaar, strikers Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent and winger Charles N'Zogbia. But Lambert still sees young and hungry players as the main route to go down and believes long term they will reap the benefits of their current experiences. When asked if relying on youth means a lack of natural leaders, Lambert said:
"That's the decision I've made. The football club has been in relegation battles for the last few years.
"This isn't just new on them because they've been in it for a few years.
"It's something we are trying to rectify in a different way and we will still go that way.
"A more experienced team than we have right now has flirted with relegation the last few years." Lambert added:
"You've got to use that hurt and that feeling of being beat and you have to bounce back and that's something the lads will do.
"I see them every day and can judge what desire they have - and no-one was talking about that up until the Chelsea game.
"We fight and we keep going. I'm not going to beat them with a rod. You have to pick them up. They are the ones that are going to have to go again for us and we are going to have to lift them.
"There are two ways of doing it. You come back fighting or you sink. I certainly am not going down without a fight.
"They will become better players for it, no doubt. When they look back in their late 20s, they will think 'jeez, I remember getting smashed there.'
"You do your utmost to try and make sure you don't have that feeling again."
Villa owner Randy Lerner will provide further financial backing to Lambert during the January transfer window. Lerner and Lambert held talks about the approach to be taken next month before and after Saturday's home defeat by Wigan. But Lambert's immediate priority is to try and obtain a positive result at the Liberty Stadium and he knows Villa have to start better than against the Latics. He said:
"You can't really offer any crumbs of comfort after losing 3-0 at home but you have to pick yourself up again.
"There is another game in a couple of days and you have to get going.
"I don't think you can start any games the way we did on Saturday, conceding from a bog-standard corner after two minutes.
"The most important thing is you start a football match right - and we never did that."
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