Aston Villa v Chelsea at Villa Park: LIVE
Late test for Lowton
Aston Villa right-back Matthew Lowton faces a late fitness test ahead of the Barclays Premier League match against Chelsea.
The defender had been ever-present this season until being forced off at Norwich with a thigh strain last weekend and will be assessed later on Friday.
Defender Ciaran Clark (foot) and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi (thigh) are still out, along with long-term absentees Richard Dunne, Marc Albrighton, Gary Gardner and Chris Herd.
Owner Randy Lerner's support for Paul Lambert has never wavered, even during the most difficult spells such as the December slump which saw them suffer heavy defeats by Chelsea, Tottenham and Wigan.
Villa's resurgence since then has been impressive, with a recent haul of 16 points from eight games lifting them away from the bottom three.
"You can get caught up in certain things," Lambert said of the Stamford Bridge 8-0 humiliation. "The defeat hurt. But great credit to the team - they never got their heads down and wilted with it.
"They kept their heads and kept on going. Now the impression is there for all to see. We have been playing really well.
"We are a threat - everyone knows that. We have players who can hurt teams.
"I am pretty sure Chelsea will know we have lads on the top of their game at the minute. We know it's going to be hard.
"The beauty of it is that everyone except ourselves and our fans will expect Chelsea to win it because of the team they are.
"The onus is on us as the home team but we are certainly playing well enough to try and hurt them."
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard will start as he bids for the club's goalscoring record, interim manager Rafael Benitez confirmed.
Eden Hazard (calf) and fellow forward Victor Moses (leg) are doubtful, but midfielder John Obi Mikel (hip) is available again as the Europa League finalists focus on their bid for a top-four place.
Ryan Bertrand (knee) is out, but Oriol Romeu is in contention following his long-term absence with a knee problem.
Benitez is expecting a tough encounter ahead of the Villa Park clash.
"It doesn't matter what happened in the game at Stamford Bridge," the Spaniard said.
"The main thing is they want to win, they need to win.
"They're doing well. It will be tough because they're desperate to win and stay in the league."
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