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N'Zogbia key to Villa final hopes

Charles N'Zogbia has been identified as a key man as relegation-threatened Aston Villa attempt to rescue their Capital One Cup semi-final against Bradford City on Tuesday night.

• Blog: Villa's best and worst in derby

The fit-again midfielder will hope to use his experience from past years at Wigan to help the club achieve their main aim of Premier League survival.

But they have the chance in the meantime to boost spirits by overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit and reaching Wembley.

And the Frenchman is being seen as a key man after his impressive contribution to Saturday's 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.

"Charles is really talented," said manager Paul Lambert. "He's the kind of player who can create things where other players might not even try them.

"They have the ability to try to make things happen and you can see them making mistakes here and there because they are trying something other players won't. But against West Brom, I thought Charles was excellent.

"I obviously don't know what happened previously and he was out a long time for me - I think it was about seven weeks or so which was a blow at the time.

"He has not been back that long. I think he's played three games now and we threw him into the Ipswich game after he'd only had one training session. I thought he was good against Bradford and he's playing well at the minute.

"We're trying to find things for him. To be creative is not easy. But he has got that ability to do it. If he can add one or two goals to his game, he would be a very good player.

"I've spoken to him numerous times. He's a really, really talented footballer."

Of much more concern to the Villa boss is his side's habit of conceding from set-pieces.

They were highly vulnerable to corners in the first leg at Bradford and conceded a late equaliser from one to Peter Odemwingie at The Hawthorns.

"Yes, it's not rocket science," Lambert added. "You go man-for-man. If it's your man who scores, then we know who was supposed to pick them up.

"If you're up against an opponent, you just have to make sure that you go and put your head on it. I'm not sure why it happened. It's just a bog standard ball into the box.

"If you mark man for man, it's me against you. It's plain for everybody to see. We practise and practise and practise them. You can never replicate that in a match but they know their jobs."

With Nathan Baker taken off early against Albion through injury, the Scot has little opportunity to ease captain Ron Vlaar back into action after his return from an absence of nearly two months. The Dutchman, who was sidelined with calf trouble, is almost sure to play again tomorrow.

But the manager still believes the point and performance in the West Midlands derby are something to build on.

"The players have got a lot of confidence," he said. "Yes, they'll be down (after losing a 2-0 lead) but I've had a chat with them and they know themselves the way they played there.

"The crowd will be unbelievable against Bradford and that will drive us on. We need that kind of start again. It would be a great occasion if we can do it. It would be great for everyone at the club.

"If we keep playing like that, we'll take a lot of confidence from it. The players know what they have to do."


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