Bradford v Villa preview: Boss won't underestimate size of task
"We haven't achieved anything yet - you don't get anything for a semi-final."
One sentence from an hour's worth of media interviews said everything you need to know about Paul Lambert's feelings on Villa's progress in the Capital One Cup.
When Villa were paired with Bradford City - the lowest ranked side left in the competition - there was a strong consensus among the claret and blue faithful that the semi-final draw had reflected favourably on their side.
It is not a theory, though, that Lambert is keen to subscribe to.
The Villa boss has a fair idea of what the mood will be like in the Bradford dressing room tomorrow night.
In the 2006-07 season, Lambert's Wycombe Wanderers became the first fourth tier side in 30 years to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup.
Like Bradford, they took two Barclays Premier League scalps en route to a glamour last-four tie against Chelsea.
Just as his Wycombe players were "bursting" with adrenaline and enthusiasm before facing their illustrious opponents, Lambert expects similar scenario for Phil Parkinson's charges.
"I know what it is like," said the Villa manager.
"The Bradford lads will give everything and more than probably normal because the adrenaline will be high.
"But we haven't done anything yet. It is a semi-final and it is another stage to try and get through.
"You don't get anything for a semi-final. You need to get through and winning it is the main thing.
"I don't want to overplay it thinking we've done it, we've arrived. We've got another two games to get through.
"I was at Wycombe when they played Chelsea and drew 1-1 and got turned over 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.
"On any given night anything can happen.
"But if we do things right and do what we have been doing then hopefully we get through."
And so the manager's message is plain and simple: "Underestimate Bradford at your peril."
This extraordinary cup run has already seen Villa negotiate the champions of England, last season's League Two winners, the current League One leaders and a top-flight side who were unbeaten in 10 matches.
Lambert insists seeing off Bradford over two legs to reach Wembley would be no less of an achievement.
"Going to Manchester City, nobody really gave us a chance," said Lambert.
"Even Tranmere for instance there was an expectancy level so that was tough.
"So was Swindon. You get through them all and every one is a hurdle.
"This one won't be anything different. We have just beaten what is in front of us.
"Bradford have earned the right - they have beaten Wigan and Arsenal - to get this far.
"Underestimate them at your peril, I think."
Lambert reckons this exciting cup run has already had a positive impact on the club - and hopes it will continue to do so.
"It does have a positive impact," he added.
"Any competitions we are in we want to try to stay in that and win it.
"Otherwise there is no point playing in it. If you are in something go and try to win it.
"If you can do that it would be great for everybody at the football club."
Bradford v Villa
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Gaffer's press conference - watch now
Marc Albrighton is Villa's only fresh injury concern after picking up a foot injury in the FA Cup win over Ipswich.
Ashley Westwood is cup tied having featured for Crewe earlier in the competition, while Karim El Ahmadi is away with Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations.
But Villa boss Paul Lambert was boosted by the return of Gabby Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia and Darren Bent at the weekend.
Bradford left-back James Meredith is hoping to overcome illness to play a part in the clash.
Bantams boss Phil Parkinson could recall Carl McHugh [calf] but Tom Naylor [hamstring] is out.
LAST TIME OUT
Bradford 0-3 Villa
This is the first time Bradford have reached the League Cup semi-finals in the competition's 53-year history.
They are the first fourth tier club to progress this far since Paul Lambert's Wycombe in 2006-07.
This is the 14th time Villa have been in the semi-finals.
It is the second time Villa have faced a fourth-tier club in the League Cup semi-finals. In 1975 Villa drew 2-2 at Chester before winning 3-2 at Villa Park in the second leg.
Paul Lambert's team have scored 14 goals in four matches in this season's competition.
Make sure you're there to back the lads against Southampton.
Go to full match coverage for Bradford 3 - 1 Aston Villa (7th January 2013) >
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