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Jan 7, 2013

Lambert warns against complacency

Paul Lambert has warned his Aston Villa players that any complacency in the Capital One Cup will be seized upon by Phil Parkinson's "dangerous animal."

• Blog: Returning trio boost Villa

Lambert heads to Bradford City for the first leg of the semi-final tomorrow admitting guiding Villa to Wembley would rank as the greatest achievement of his career so far.

He also knows that Parkinson's League Two side, who have already accounted for Wigan Athletic and Arsenal, are primed to wreck his dream of a first trip to Wembley as a manager and claim a third Premier League scalp if his side are not fully focused.

Despite a vital Premier League game with fellow relegation strugglers Southampton sandwiched in between the two legs, Lambert will be taking the strongest squad he has available to try to set up a comfortable position for the return game at Villa Park.

Darren Bent, Charles N'Zogbia and Gabriel Agbonlahor were all given rare starts for the 2-1 win over Ipswich in the FA Cup third round and all will be part of the squad, but Christian Benteke is likely to return to the starting line-up.

"We cannot treat Bradford lightly, that is for sure. We gave some lads a break in the FA Cup and the ones who came in were excellent," said Lambert.

"There will be a pretty strong squad going to Bradford and I will go as strong as I possibly can. I am not in a position to do anything else. I won't prioritise and say one game is more important than the other.

"Bradford have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They will be a totally different side to the one that lost on Saturday. They will give everything they have to try and turn us over."

Lambert is happy to have the second leg at Villa Park, but wants his players to heed the warning Bradford have handed out to Roberto Martinez and Arsene Wenger so far in the competition.

"Every round we have had in the competition has been a hurdle and this one will be no different. Bradford will be a totally different animal in the cup and that is why it is a dangerous tie," he said.

"It has been incredible for them, beating Wigan and Arsenal. They have turned over some really good sides, but Wembley for this club would be extraordinary, because you don't know what can happen in a one-off game if you get there. To get there would be absolutely phenomenal.

"It would be huge to get to Wembley, but I don't view it as an achievement for me. It is all about the team and the fans."

Lambert is also hoping Villa can make the final for stricken captain Stiliyan Petrov, who is battling Leukaemia after being diagnosed last year. The Bulgarian was in the dressing room before the Ipswich tie at the weekend and Lambert would love to take him to Wembley.

"I will definitely invite him. When I found out about his illness it was a real body blow. I played with him and know what a great footballer he is and I know him really well. It puts everything into perspective," he said.

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