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Lambert: Sunderland not safe yet

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has warned Paolo Di Canio that Sunderland remain in the thick of the relegation struggle - despite the Italian's impact since taking charge at the Stadium of Light.

Lambert is preparing to face Di Canio on Monday night in what he feels is a must win game for Villa in their bid to avoid relegation to the Championship.

Di Canio has enjoyed an incredible start since taking over from Lambert's close friend and former Villa manager Martin O'Neill, winning back-to-back games to lift the Black Cats six points clear of the bottom three.

Lambert has been in the thick of the relegation battle all season and is hardened to the pressures - and he hopes the impact of Di Canio and those two victories may cause Sunderland to rest on their laurels.

"A lot can be made of a new manager coming in and it's up to us to combat that and go and try to win," Lambert said. "You don't know if it's worked, you have to wait and see, they're still bang in it. I think Paolo would say that himself.

"You can talk about new manager syndrome or whatever, but it's the same group of players that were there before. They got a result against Everton that was really good with the way Everton have been playing. But we're at home and the onus is on us to make the running."

Lambert has played down concerns there could be some ill-will towards Di Canio as a result of an incident during the Capital One Cup earlier this season.

Di Canio, then manager of Swindon Town, appeared to taunt Villa fans about relegation after the meeting between the two sides, but Lambert said: "I didn't know anything about it.

"I think I've got more things to worry about. I don't really get wound up by that sort of thing. The lads that go out and play, they're the most important people along with the people that come and watch it."

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