Lambert sees value of World Cup
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert hopes the incentive of playing at next summer's World Cup will give his players extra motivation to do well in the claret and blue shirt.
Some of Villa's key men can expect to be on the plane to Brazil with their respective nations next year, with the likes of Belgian striker Christian Benteke, Holland defender Ron Vlaar and American goalkeeper Brad Guzan all staples for their national teams.
Villa also have a crop of emerging talent who have outside chances of sneaking in the back door and making it to the finals after Roy Hodgson's men secured qualification this week, including in-form Englishmen such as Gabriel Agbonlahor and Fabian Delph.
Lambert knows it will be hard for outsiders to force their way into established squads in time for the tournament but admits the prospect of a World Cup does give players a spring in their step.
"It's good for the lads who have qualified, first and foremost," he said.
"It's good for any player to get to a World Cup. The lads that are in contention will hopefully stay fit and healthy and will go.
"For their countries it's great and a great honour to go to the World Cup, especially in Brazil which I think will be a great tournament.
"If the lads stay fit and healthy and give me a ticket for the games, I'm quite happy...and my flights - that's the least they can do!"
Benteke, Guzan and Vlaar are Villa's three most established players expecting to go to Brazil and while the onus is on them to justify their place, Lambert himself has no doubt about their qualities.
"They've got nothing to prove to me," he said.
"They're experienced lads. In their own minds they might think 'this is a big year' but it was always going to be a big year for any player fighting to get into a World Cup squad. It's a massive year.
"Even lads that haven't been that involved in the qualifying group, somebody will pop up from somewhere and sneak in. That's what happens in football."
He added: "I don't know about our English lads. There's one or two who are playing really well.
"I'm pretty sure Roy's loyalty...you tend to find the ones who got you there will form the majority of the squad, but you do get one or two who do surface from somewhere. If they can do it, then great.
"You can get injuries between now and the end of the season. Things can happen. You've just got to hope that your players are on their game and they get looked at or have an opportunity.
"It's a big season for every English player in terms of getting to this World Cup.
"It's good for the Premier League that England have qualified because it takes away a bit of criticism about the number of foreign lads who are playing here so it's good for England in that way.
"For some of the experienced lads it will be their last World Cup so for them, on a personal note, it will be great."
Lambert is assessing Benteke ahead of Villa's Barclays Premier League clash at home to Tottenham on Sunday after the striker's recent hip injury.