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May 6, 2013

Agbonlahor praises Villa youth

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is confident the club's youth policy has unearthed players that have "stood up the plate" in the club's darkest hours.

• Blog: Happy 40th, Villa

Villa are within touching distance of surviving for another season in the Premier League with the recent 2-1 win over Norwich moving the club five points above the relegation zone with only two games remaining.

The scenario the club now faces is in stark contrast to the plight the club and its young guns found themselves earlier in the season when Manchester City (5-0), Chelsea (8-0), Tottenham (4-0) and Wigan (3-0) tore the club apart and sent them tumbling down the ladder.

But Agbonlahor and his young team-mates are making a late surge just at the right time thanks to a two-game winning streak.

And the 26-year-old, the club's all-time leading goal scorer, believes the club's investment in youth has finally been justified.

"The young lads have come through," he said. "They have had some bad things said about them when things were not going too well, but they had stood up to the plate and performed week in, week out, and tried their hardest to improve and they are improving game by game.

"Hopefully if we can get this season out of the way you will see more improvement next season.

"They have had a lot of pressure on them and great credit to them they've stuck at it, carried on playing and fighting in big games.

"They have not crumbled and game by game they are improving.

"They have come back from games like at Chelsea, and long may it continue."

However, Villa manager Paul Lambert has warned his young charges the danger has not passed, and has called upon the squad to keep their current undefeated run intact until the end of the season.

"There are a lot of teams who are not safe. We are playing ever so well at the minute and that's all you can ask for, but you are never safe until you have actually done it," Lambert said.

"You have just got to be resolute in what you are doing and have the belief in them that they can do it.

"There is a lot of pressure at the football club because of the size of it, it is a massive club with a massive fan base and the history tells you that there is a lot of expectation, but that is something you revel in.

"It is not something I am going to get over-worked about.

"I have got a great rapport with the people at the football club and with the supporters, which is vital.

"They have stuck by us in really hard times and hopefully they are getting a little bit of joy from what's happening now.

"You have to keep building and not rest on things. You can see a team that is growing together, and the fans have been outstanding.

"If we keep it going, we have always got a chance."

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