Villa v Ipswich match preview: Ready for battle on three fronts
Paul Lambert is determined to see Villa still fighting on three fronts by the time January draws to a close.
Some managers in Lambert's situation might see this weekend's FA Cup third round tie against Ipswich as an unwanted distraction.
After all, Villa have a two-leg Capital One Cup semi-final on the horizon, while the battle in the bottom half of the Barclays Premier League is getting tighter.
Although league points have become the main priority for most top-flight teams in recent seasons, though, Lambert insists his team will not pass up the opportunity to progress in football's most famous domestic cup competition.
He expects Mick McCarthy's resurgent Ipswich to adopt the same attitude in what should be a fiercely-contested cup clash.
"It is a prestigious competition and you want to do well in but the Premier League has taken over in a lot of aspects," said the manager.
"It is a shame really because the FA Cup even when I was growing up was a massive competition.
"It is a chance to go through. If in it, you might as well go and try and win it.
"It's the same feeling as with the Capital One Cup.
"It is for both teams. Mick is a great football person but we are at home and, other than the three games over Christmas, we've been playing pretty well ourselves.
"Mick has put his stamp on things and Ipswich will come up here with nothing to fear, without the pressure of the league, and this will be a tough game."
However, Lambert admits he will take Tuesday's semi-final first leg against Bradford in to consideration when it comes to selecting his team.
Several players could be afforded a rest but there are signs of Villa's lengthy injury list starting to clear.
"There are a few injuries," said Lambert.
"I might need to rest one or two this coming Saturday because we've got a massive game on Tuesday.
"We need to look and see how everyone is feeling.
"But every game is important and we want to get through. Whatever team I pick I want to get through."
One area where Lambert has no shortage of talent is the goalkeeping department.
Shay Given has been Villa's regular cup keeper this term, although Brad Guzan did start against Tranmere Rovers back in August.
Both players have firmly underlined their credentials when called upon this season.
"Shay has been brilliant in the cup and Brad has been fantastic in the league," added Lambert.
"It is something I'll look at. Every time Shay has played, he has been excellent.
"He kept us in the game at Norwich to be honest at 1-1. He has been huge for us.
"Whichever keeper I play, I'll have no problem. It is an area in which we are strong, two very good keepers."
Villa v Ipswich Town
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AVTV DON'T MISS
Villa boss Paul Lambert will assess the fitness of Gabby Agbonlahor [thigh], Charles N'Zogbia [knee] and Darren Bent [hamstring] ahead of the cup clash.
All three have been given a chance of playing a part against Ipswich after recovering from their respective injuries.
But Richard Dunne [groin], Ron Vlaar [calf], Nathan Baker [hamstring] and Ashley Westwood [ankle ligaments] are all expected to be ruled out.
Karim El Ahmadi is also missing for the claret and blues after linking up with Morocco for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Ipswich are set to play their first game without top goalscorer DJ Campbell, who returned to parent club QPR.
Mick McCarthy could give a debut to centre-back Patrick Kisborbo who has arrived on a one-month loan from Leeds.
GENTING BETTING GUIDE
Villa win - 10/11
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Villa will be wearing their traditional home kit of claret and blue.
LAST TIME OUT
Villa 2-1 Ipswich
This is the 55th meeting between Villa and Ipswich - the first for a decade.
Villa have won 22 of the previous 54, with Ipswich winning 19.
It is the fifth time the two clubs have been paired together in the FA Cup, with honours even at two wins a piece.
Villa were 3-1 winners at Portman Road in February 1996 - Mark Draper, Ian Taylor and Dwight Yorke firing them into the quarter-finals.
The boys in claret and blue haven't been knocked out by a Championship club since a defeat to Sheffield United in 2005.
Ipswich have lost on each of the last 11 occasions they've been drawn against top-flight opposition.
Go to full match coverage for Aston Villa 2 - 1 Ipswich (4th January 2013) >
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