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Sep 11, 2012

Agbonlahor: No one guaranteed a start

Gabriel Agbonlahor feels no one is guaranteed a starting place at Aston Villa under ruthless manager Paul Lambert.

• Kevin Hughes: Did Villa do enough during transfer window?

Agbonlahor, Villa's longest-serving player, is challenging for his first start of the season against Swansea this weekend after missing the first few games with a knee injury sustained in pre-season.

However, as a result of the signings of Christian Benteke and Jordan Bowery as well as the fearless nature of Lambert's team selections, the England international is convinced that no one is guaranteed a place.

Lambert has already underlined his willingness to take tough decisions by dropping Shay Given in Villa's last game before the international break, and Agbonlahor, who wants to return to his preferred position as a central striker, said in the Birmingham Mail: "It's going to be hard for everyone.

"No one in the squad is guaranteed a starting place. There are a lot of the young strikers doing really well and they are going to be coming after my place. It was the same when I was younger and I was going after other player's places. It keeps the older lads - not just myself but in every position - on their toes."

Agbonlahor suffered under previous managers Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish, often being asked to play in wide positions, which cost him his international place.

He fell out with Houllier and was left confused by McLeish's baffling decisions, adding: "Last season I was being played more left midfield or off the striker.

"When we beat Chelsea away I was playing in a front role and then the game after against Swansea at home I was played right midfield. If you don't get a run of games it can sort of mess your head up. Hopefully I can get a certain amount of games in my preferred position as a striker."

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