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Lambert relying on squad strength

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has made it clear that he does not mind his fringe players knocking on his door to express their frustrations at being left out of the side.

Villa are currently fighting for their Premier League status, sitting one place above the drop zone with just five games left to play.

And Lambert says he will need his whole squad pulling in the same direction if they are to pick up the points required to avoid relegation.

Asked if his fringe players, such as Barry Bannan and Enda Stevens, may be called upon between now and the end of the season, Lambert said: "They give everything they've got and that's all you can ever ask of people. As long as you don't go out there and sulk and mope around, that will never work.

"Everybody is as important as everybody else. You need them to be ready. They're every bit as important as everybody else because you need that togetherness.

"You have to be ready to be called upon and to do what your mate's just been doing. If you keep that collective thing and spirit, that's half the battle. It's a team thing. You look at the most successful teams, everybody goes the same way and this isn't any different."

Bannan is the latest player to find himself on the fringes of the first team at Villa Park. The midfielder has missed out on selection for the games against Stoke and Fulham, following the return of Fabian Delph from suspension.

Full-back Stevens is also being made to wait for a further opportunity, having been used regularly earlier in the season.

"It's not just about 18 guys," Lambert said. "You need everyone at the football club to play a role. Barry has done that as well. He has been in and out but you just have to pick a squad that you think will win a game.

"I think Joe Bennett has been excellent in the last few games. He's starting to look like the lad we wanted to bring along. He has been right on top of his game. He can definitely deliver the ball. There have been some big tests for him lately but I think he has coped very well.

"There are people ahead of Enda at the moment but he has been training well and doing everything that we've asked of him. I thought he played excellently against Manchester United here that day [in November] but you've just got to bide your time."

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