Lambert gives fringe players chance
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert wants his fringe players to rise to the challenge against West Ham United this weekend -- after ruling out three of his players for the trip to London.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Antonio Luna and Joe Bennett are all expected to miss the trip to the Boleyn Ground and Lambert has challenged players who have failed to win a regular place in the side so far this season to seize their opportunity this weekend.
He will have to make changes at left-back, with Luna set to be sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring problem and his natural deputy Bennett also out with a back injury.
The loss of Agbonlahor is arguably the biggest blow for the Villa manager as he looks to bounce back from last weekend's defeat against Everton.
Agbonlahor is struggling with an ankle injury and the meeting with Sam Allardyce's side will come too soon for the 27-year-old striker.
"Gabby is a doubt. He has not really recovered from when he first suffered the ankle injury and he needs more time to fully recover," Lambert said. "Antonio is struggling with his hamstring at the minute. He'll be a few weeks out and Joe Bennett has a sore back at the minute so we'll see how he is."
Czech striker Libor Kozak could be included in place of Agbonlahor, while Ciaran Clark may deputise at left-back, and Lambert has made it clear that places are still up for grabs in his side as he looks to push Villa higher up the Premier League table.
"It is a chance for everybody. You get an injury and someone else comes in. It is up to them to step up. That's football all the time. Someone else's misfortune is somebody else's gain," he said.
"You have to take the chance and whoever comes in, I'm pretty sure they won't let anybody down."