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Villa close in on Lambert appointment

Paul Lambert

Aston Villa are hopeful of announcing Paul Lambert as their new manager within the next 24 hours, Press Association Sport understands.

Villa remain confident of securing Lambert as Alex McLeish's successor even though Norwich refused to accept his resignation on Thursday. The Birmingham club are ready to pay the compensation demands of the Canaries for Lambert, who has a rolling contract at Carrow Road.

The Scot has held talks with Villa, who are optimistic any loose ends can be tied up sooner rather than later. Lambert will then be charged by club owner Randy Lerner with the task of revitalising Villa after two seasons in the doldrums.

After three successive top-six finishes under Martin O'Neill, Villa have dropped too close to the Barclays Premier League bottom three for comfort.

It is believed Lambert will be given money to spend after McLeish spent last season reducing what he described as an "astronomical" wage bill. Lambert will also be able to use the money from any players he generates from current Villa players he off-loads to bolster the squad.

Experienced duo Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar have already left Villa at the end of their contracts.

It is believed Villa have to pay around £1 million in compensation to ensure Lambert becomes their fourth manager in less than two years. Gerard Houllier replaced O'Neill but had to quit last summer on health grounds, while former Birmingham boss McLeish was never accepted by the Villa fans.

Lambert also fits the profile of being a youngish, hungry and ambitious manager after working his way through the lower leagues before transforming Norwich's fortunes.

Lerner also held talks with former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he opted to stay at Molde in Norway for family reasons, although he was not formally offered the Villa post.

Villa also spoke with advisors of Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who rejected the chance to replace Houllier 12 months ago. But Latics boss Dave Whelan claimed Martinez, who held talks with Liverpool, was staying put.