Norwich return just another game to Lambert

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has played down the emotion surrounding his return to Norwich and insisted he is fully focused on maintaining his side's good form.

Paul Lambert, Aston Villa

The Scot enjoyed three hugely successful years at Carrow Road, guiding the Canaries to consecutive promotions and an impressive first season in the Barclays Premier League before leaving on acrimonious terms.

Saturday marks his second return to Carrow Road since leaving, having beaten his old team 4-1 in the Capital One Cup earlier this season. And Lambert insists his links with the club will be far from his thoughts if Villa beat 14th-placed

Norwich and worsen their plight while boosting his own side's survival bid.

"I think if you get caught up in my connection there it deflects from the game," he said. "It's not about me going back there because I've been back already. I had three fabulous years there and took a team from League One, built it up, the crowd bought into it, the lads I worked with were fantastic.

"It's another game and I'm looking forward to going down there. I have fantastic memories there but it has gone.

"I'm looking forward to it because I had three really enjoyable years there that I don't think anyone would have seen coming.

"The players I worked with were fantastic and one or two are still there. I probably know them better than they know themselves, really.

"There's a few teams right in the relegation battle anyway. We know we've got a hard game there but we're certainly playing well enough. That's the big difference.

"My job is here. We have to win. If our fans are anything like they were for the cup game then we'll be taking a ferocious support down there. It will be a tough game but we're certainly playing well."

Villa are now in control of their destiny and look a good bet to stay up but Lambert is reluctant to rest on his laurels just yet.

"It's never over until it's over but you have to give yourself a chance."

Midlands rivals West Brom could help Villa keep their top flight status for next season by beating Wigan this weekend.

"You can't think about other teams doing you favours, you have to do it yourself," Lambert insisted. "The big thing for me is that every time we've been asked to get a result against somebody round about us we've done it and the lads have come up with the answers.

"Hopefully that will be the case again."

Lambert has revealed several of his players could be in line for improved deals should Villa's Premier League status be retained.

The likes of Andreas Weimann, Matthew Lowton, Ashley Westwood and, most notably, Christian Benteke have all enjoyed excellent breakthrough seasons.

"There are a few in there that you would look at that have done really well," said the manager.

"I don't know if they 'expect' it. If we get through this period of time, I will sit with everybody and explain."

Villa could be without defender Ciaran Clark (foot) and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi (groin) again after the pair missed Monday's win over Sunderland.



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