Belfast Telegraph

Lambert focused on team issues

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has vowed to make sure off-field issues have no impact on him or the team as he prepares for the 2014-15 Barclays Premier League season.

Lambert, who took over at Villa Park two years ago, will be trying to avoid a repeat of this year's disappointing 15th-place finish while chairman Randy Lerner searches for a buyer after putting the club up for sale last week.

The two men have since met in New York to devise a short-to-medium term strategy and Lambert has come out of those discussions ready to get straight back to work.

"As everybody is aware, I met with the chairman along with Paul (chief executive Paul Faulkner) and I'm determined to get on with the job of managing Aston Villa," the manager told the club's official website.

"These circumstances are extremely challenging as the club is for sale and as far as I know there is nothing imminent in terms of new ownership, but we're going to roll up our sleeves, prepare for the battle ahead and do our best by the club.

"The squad requires strengthening, that's self-evident, and it won't be easy within the current circumstances. But we'll look to identify players of proven quality to bring in and get ready for the start of the new season."

Lambert added: "I'm determined to give it everything I have, the players will do the same and it is our collective strength as a club which, ultimately, will see us through."

Former Villa striker Dwight Yorke, who played for the club between 1989 and 1998, has expressed his sadness at their recent struggles and hopes they will be back among the country's elite soon.

Speaking at a golf day at Close House Golf Club to raise money for the Children's Heart Unit and the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, the 42-year-old said: "If I could buy Villa, I would buy Villa, because I think it's absolutely a top club.

"It's a shame where it is. In my time there and before my time it was always a top-four, top-five club in the country, but for some reason they have lost their way and Paul Lambert has had a very difficult time there. Three years in a row we've just been trying to survive, and Villa deserve much better than that.

"We all hope for the best for Villa and if a new owner comes in he will get the money in and certainly get Villa back to where they belong, which is in the top five."

Meanwhile, striker Nicklas Helenius looks set to leave the club after just one season at Villa Park.

Following his move from AaB on a three-year deal last summer, the 23-year-old Denmark international has made just six appearances - none of which were starts - for the midlands outfit in all competitions and scored one goal.

His representative Mads Bach Lund said on Twitter on Monday: "Villa are not counting on Nicklas Helenius as a part of the squad next season.

"Pity, but we are looking forward instead of backwards.

"He did his very best, but many reasons behind this. But great experience and development, he is a stronger player now!"


From Belfast Telegraph