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Lambert upbeat over Villa's future

Paul Lambert insists good times are ahead for his Aston Villa side - despite their slide back into the Premier League relegation places on the weekend.

• Blog: Four games, four wins

Lambert is expecting Ciaran Clark to be at the helm of what he believes will be an exciting future at the club. Currently serving a one-match touchline ban for comments made about the officials following last week's hammering at Manchester City, Lambert enjoyed what he saw in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal.

The point lifted his team out of the bottom three, although they promptly dropped back into the relegation zone with Southampton's victory yesterday.

"I have never sensed the confidence is a problem," the Scot said. "They (the players) are young and make mistakes but it's a long project, if you want to call it that.

"The performances are really encouraging and the future for the football club is good. I want to win every game as far as possible but you always look to the next game. If you get a point (like this), sometimes it's viewed as a great point."

Lambert was delighted with his youthful defence, especially as they kept Arsenal's in-form attack in check despite the loss of skipper Ron Vlaar early in the second half with a calf injury. Clark was central to the resistance effort as Villa emerged from an unforgiving trilogy of fixtures after losing to Manchester United and their neighbours City in the previous two games.

"Ciaran was excellent," the manager said. "He seems to have been around for years and he's only 21. He has a terrific future."

Lambert was less forthcoming about the position of Darren Bent, who wasn't involved despite being described on Friday as fit after an ankle problem that had ruled him out of the previous three games.

The club record signing wasn't even on the substitutes' bench and the manager said simply: "I am the one who picks the team and it's my choice. I have 26 or 27 players who are in it together. That's the nature of the game.

"Darren Bent is still part of it. The most important thing is Aston Villa Football Club."

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