Aston Villa V Southampton at Villa Park - Match Preview

Vlaar could make Villa return

Aston Villa skipper Ron Vlaar could play some part in the home Barclay's Premier League clash with Southampton after returning to training following a seven-week absence with a calf injury.

Midfielders Ashley Westwood (ankle) and Brett Holman (virus) are also back in contention for match between two struggling sides.

But striker Darren Bent (knee), defenders Chris Herd (foot) and Richard Dunne (groin), winger Marc Albrighton (metatarsal) and keeper Shay Given (hamstring) are ruled out.

Boss Paul Lambert admits he has endured sleepless nights since Villa's shock 3-1 defeat at Bradford in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday.

But he thrives on the pressure of football and expects a positive response from his players against the Saints, who defeated Villa 4-1 at St Mary's earlier in the season.

He said: "You don't sleep. I think any manager will tell you that. It's not been a great two nights since Tuesday, let's put it that way.

"But I love the pressure of it and you have to meet it head-on. I'd rather have the pressure than not.

"You've got to have pressure to perform and that is the making of football and that is no different for the lads who are here.

"The fans were hurting after the other night and it was an embarrassment. I hurt like everyone else and the players are also hurt by the embarrassment of getting beat the way they did.

"They will want to put things right. The lads are down about what has happened but you have to pick yourself up and go again.

"You get on with it. You can't feel sorry for yourselves in football."

Lambert rejects the notion that Villa's current plight is down to his faith in up-and-coming talent and points to the struggles of the previous two seasons with more experienced players.

He said: "This football club has had experienced teams in the past and the position has not changed for the past three years.

"People say the current position is because the players are young. It's nothing to do with it. This club has been in the same situation for three years with really top players at this club.

"We have to build this club and get results while we are building it."

Southampton will be looking to compound matters and jump above the midlanders with victory - a result Jay Rodriguez believes his side are more than capable of.

"We have a inner confidence and team spirit so we can go to places and get a good result," the striker said. "I am sure that we will.

"We are working hard every day in training, getting the right stuff on board getting ready for the games.

"I think we will go into the game with inner confidence.

"We've done very well this season and I think we have been unlucky on certain occasions not to get the three points.

"I feel we have got a self-belief, a team spirit, and feel we are going to go forward.

"We are picking up points on the road as well, which is better. We know we need to keep working hard, keep focused and hopefully keep moving up the table."

Source: PA

Source: PA