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Apr 12, 2013

Lambert praises 'unique' Agbonlahor

Aston Villa loyalist Gabby Agbonlahor has been hailed as "unique" by manager Paul Lambert, who believes it will take Roadrunner to catch the striker when he is in his stride.

• Villa to wait on Benteke future

In the nick of time, the spring-heeled forward has regained some of his best form to help fire his boyhood club towards Premier League safety.

And Lambert says a home-town boy of his talents is the dream ticket.

"There's no doubt Gabby is on top of his game and his goal-scoring is excellent," the manager said. "It's a unique thing ... a guy staying at a club for that time.

"Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs have done it but not many stay for that length of time. He's still in his 20s and he has a lot of football in him and a lot of time to try to do well.

"He has been brought up with it here and if you have somebody the crowd can identify with, it always helps. They know the club and the fans like the back of their hands. He's an ambassador for the Acorns charity as well.

"His form since I have been here has been really high. He's happy because the team are going well."

Agbonlahor moved alongside Dwight Yorke at the top of Villa's all-time highest Premier League goal chart by opening the scoring in last weekend's victory at Stoke.

Lambert believes it's only a matter of time before he goes clear and feels grateful that his reign has been marked to date by a revival in the one-club man's fortunes.

"It's great," he added. "I don't know if it was a confidence thing before. There were a lot of factors... you start to lose the feeling of winning, which can hurt people.

"Since the start of pre-season, he has looked good but then hurt his knee and missed the opening games. I have not seen him down. I don't know what happened before but he has certainly played well.

"He has put a shift in. His work rate is extremely high and he has been creating things and scoring goals. We try to concentrate on players' strengths rather than any negatives.

"With the speed he has got, you won't catch him when he goes on a run. I've seen nobody outrun him. You need to be Roadrunner to catch him.

"When you have a player with pace and he keeps coming at you, you know you are in for a hard time. He's a strong, powerful boy as well. He's definitely a handful. He's got so much strength coming from the wide areas and he is certainly a threat when the game opens up."

Villa take a run of three victories in four games into Saturday's home game against Fulham and can take a giant stride towards ensuring their survival with another three points.

Last weekend's Midlands derby at Stoke ended amid scenes of great celebration following extraordinary goals by Matt Lowton and Christian Benteke in the final five minutes, but Lambert insists he has had no trouble in re-focusing his players in training this week.

"We don't sense any feeling that the job is done," he said. "The hard work is still there. There was great satisfaction in the way that we performed (at Stoke) and in seeing the crowd the way they were. You just keep going."

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