Lambert hails number two Given

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has hailed his current number two keeper Shay Given as world class after helping his side stay on course for a potential cup double.

Shay Given, Aston Villa

Lambert believes Given is unfortunate not to be playing on a regular basis because of the form of Brad Guzan despite Villa leaking 17 goals in their last four Barclays Premier League games.

Given again showed his ability with two superb saves during Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup third round home win over Ipswich ahead of Tuesday's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Bradford.

Lambert said: "I think Shay has been unfortunate because of the way Brad has been playing as well.

"Shay Given is a world-class goalkeeper but Brad Guzan has been playing fantastic for us as well.

"Shay makes saves that I think are impossible to make. He is very good.

"If you ask the young players in front of him, they will tell you what they think of him as well.

"I can't speak highly enough of the way Shay plays. I thought the save he made in the second half was world class."

Lambert is already relishing the prospect of Tuesday's clash with Bradford who pulled off a shock win over Arsenal in the previous round.

He said: "It is massive for the football club, it is massive for us as a team and it will be massive for individuals to get through.

"It is going to be a tough game. It is a two-legged affair and we are certainly playing well enough."

Lambert has been boosted by the return to fitness of three experienced players in Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Charles N'Zogbia to help supplement his crop of young talent.

Bent produced a trademark finish to cancel out Michael Chopra's opener from an N'Zogbia pass before Andreas Weimann's superb headed winner.

Lambert said: "I thought we did really well and the big pleasing thing was Darren getting 90 minutes, Charles getting 70 and Gabby coming on for the last bit of the game as well.

"It was three big players coming back and if you can get everyone fit, then it's a big plus.

"Those three lads only trained on Friday. It was a big gamble to throw them in but all credit to them. I thought they were excellent."

The only negative factor for Lambert was a first half injury to Marc Albrighton who suffered a knock to the metatarsal which sidelined him earlier in the campaign.

He said: "Marc got a kick on his metatarsal, the same injury he had at the beginning of the season.

"I don't know if it is fractured or anything like that but it is roughly about the same area. We have to see how he is."

Ipswich showed signs of the way they have improved since Mick McCarthy took charge but he knows there is work to be done to maintain Championship status.

The former Wolves boss said: "When I came in 'stay up' was my remit and that's not changed as far as I'm concerned.

"I've seen it before where people go in and have an early impact and then suddenly you find yourself back in the bottom three because you've had a couple of defeats.

"We've got some of our nearest and dearest rivals coming along in the near future so it's vitally important we keep our eyes on that."



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