Lambert looks to the future
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert feels the club are still "years away" from where they want to be - but has no doubt they are firmly heading in the right direction.
Lambert is very much working on a long-term project at Villa, which began with his appointment in June 2012 and has seen a considerable revamping of the squad.
With line-ups lacking in Barclays Premier League experience and featuring a number of players in their early 20s, the midlands outfit finished 15th last term after spending much of the season in or around the drop zone.
There were some notable highs for Villa during the campaign, though, and things have started encouragingly this season.
Lambert, who has brought in six new signings this summer, has been delighted with his side's two performances so far in a 3-1 win at Arsenal and 2-1 defeat at Chelsea.
And he says his players are in confident mood heading into Saturday's home clash with Liverpool - another club where there is a definite sense of an ongoing project.
Asked about the way the two teams are progressing, Lambert said: "We have not got the same resources as Liverpool - you look at the spending Liverpool can do compared to ourselves and we can't do that.
"But what we have got is a great football club, a great fanbase behind us and we have a team that I think is proud to be here. I think that is vital for us.
"We are still years away from where we want to get to, but we are certainly getting there."
He added: "It is still early, but we have got a lot of confidence at the minute.
"The ones that were here last year have grown into it. They know what the league is like.
"The new ones are now part of that and will grow into it.
"But as a team they have come a really long way in a short space of time."
Villa should have defender Ciaran Clark available for Saturday's game.
Clark was forced off in the first half of the loss at Chelsea on Wednesday with a head injury but is expected to be fit for Liverpool's visit to Villa Park, while midfielder Chris Herd could be in contention for a first appearance this term following his calf problem.
Defender Nathan Baker (ankle) remains a doubt and winger Charles N'Zogbia (Achilles) definitely misses out.
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers may still be looking for new players but he already feels his team have come a long way.
Rodgers is hoping to steer the Reds back into the Champions League for the first time since 2010 and has said he would like to add to the five summer signings he has already made.
But the Northern Irishman was hugely encouraged by the performance in last week's season-opening win over Stoke and is happy with the improvement since taking over a year ago.
Rodgers, whose side finished seventh in the Barclays Premier League last season, said: "In order to be a winner you have to have the belief. That was something last year we were maybe not able to find consistently.
"But we have picked up a lot. The group has grown over time. It might only have been a small thing last week, but to get that win shows the development mentally.
"I can only speak highly of the players. They are the ones doing the work, they are the ones being driven and asked. To get that last week was very important for us.
"Whatever transfer talk or speculation there has been this week, the bottom line is there are some outstanding players here - top, top players.
"They will hopefully keep finding the ways to win games and hopefully we will add to the squad alongside them."
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez remains the only notable absentee.
The controversial forward is now halfway through the 10-match ban he received last season after sitting out the Reds' season opener against Stoke.
Fellow Uruguayan Sebastian Coates, a defender, is likely to miss most of the season with a knee injury sustained on international duty last week.
Striker Luis Alberto was an unused substitute in that game and still to make his debut, while new signing Aly Cissokho could also be in contention.