West Brom v Villa match preview: Lambert wants derby courage
Paul Lambert believes courage is the most precious commodity in a derby - and he's backed his players to show it in abundance tonight
Lambert sends his players into an early evening encounter with West Brom insisting that they have what it takes to emerge victorious.
The boss admits Villa have not clocked up the best results of late but, importantly, he says he's seen "no negativity" in training, with the lads buzzing ahead of the Albion encounter.
He said: "You don't need lifting for the game.
"Form also goes out of the window because you don't know what's going to happen. It's a good game.
"It's important for both teams. It's important for the fans. It's vital.
"We have been beaten in a couple of games and West Brom the same.
"You need a lot of courage on and off the ball. You have to handle the atmosphere and the crowd. You have to have players who can step up to the plate.
"You also have a better chance of winning with 11 players on the pitch, that's for sure. You can't get drawn into over-aggression. You have to play your own game.
"I see the lads in training. I don't see any negativity at all. The way they train, they are very, very good. It's about transferring that into matches.
"I have never once come in and thought we're miles off it."
Lambert says his players are looking forward to experiencing the red-hot atmosphere at The Hawthorns - and he's relishing pitting his wits against former St Mirren pal Steve Clarke.
He continued: "Steve's done really well there. They're on a bit of a run that's not great for them either. They started the season incredibly well.
"They're a good side with some really good players and experienced lads and it will be a great atmosphere there. You don't need to be lifted by it. We have to go to try to win."
Lambert, of course, will be boosted by the return of skipper Ron Vlaar.
Vlaar is looking forward to coming back for the Baggies bash.
He's eager to help the team to three points - and the "prestige" that comes with winning a derby.
He said: "They are a very good team. They are very solid. Physically, they are very good.
"We should have scored in the first half in the game at Villa Park to get that first goal but we didn't.
"After half-time they scored but it was good that Benty scored. We deserved that goal.
"I really look forward to this latest game. It's a derby which is always nice. We need points, that's obvious.
"It's always more passion in a derby, also for the fans because it's two clubs from the same city.
"It's also prestige. You want to win that game, like every game, but it's just a bit more important for the fans and also for us to win this game.
"We can feed off the atmosphere. That's my feeling always. But we have to be focused. What happens in the crowd, we have to try to get the benefit of it. But we have to focus."
West Brom v Villa
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West Brom will assess Claudio Yacob and Marc-Antoine Fortune, both of whom have been sidelined because of hamstring injuries.
Shane Long is doubtful with a dead leg and Steven Reid is ruled out but Chris Brunt has recovered from illness.
Ron Vlaar could start his first game since suffering a calf injury in November.
Darren Bent [knee] and Richard Dunne [groin] are training again but Paul Lambert must make a decision on their availability.
Marc Albrighton is definitely out with a foot injury.
Villa will be wearing their traditional home kit of claret and blue.
Villa fans will be located in the Smethwick End Stand, Block A, which is situated on the south side of the stadium.
Main access is via Middlemore Road, which is on the east side of the ground.
Fans should enter through Turnstile Block A.
Parking for visitors coaches will be in Middlemore Road and access to the stadium is via a ramp leading to the rear of the Smethwick End stand.
Away fans travelling to the ground by other forms of transport are strongly advised to park off Middlemore Road as access to the stadium will be easier.
Away fans travelling by train or tram are advised to move north along Middlemore Road until they come to the ramp on their left.
Access to the rear of the Smethwick End is from the East Stand car park entrance.
The Halfords Lane area will be closed, 90 minutes before the scheduled kick off time and access thereafter will be via Middlemore Road and its ramp.
Directional signs to assist spectators are displayed at convenient locations around the stadium.
Away fans will need to produce matchday tickets to enter the zone adjacent to Turnstile Block A.
The turnstiles will be open at 4pm and visiting fans are advised to arrive in good time to gain entry to the stadium prior to kick off.
When the game has ended, segregation gates located at the East Stand car park and the rear of the Smethwick End stand, between the home and away sections, are closed until all away fans have exited the ground via the Middlemore ramp.
In addition, no alcohol will be served to away supporters inside the stadium, as has been the case in previous fixtures between the two clubs.
LAST TIME OUT
West Brom 0-0 Villa
West Brom are unbeaten in their last four games against Aston Villa. They have won two of those matches, with the last two ending in draws.
Prior to that run, Villa were unbeaten against the Baggies in 17 league and cup games, a sequence that lasted 26 years.
The Baggies have lost six and won just two of their last nine Premier League games.
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