Friday media watch [03.05.13 AM]: Lambert to reward young lions
Guardian: Matthew Lowton and Ashley Westwood are expected to be rewarded with improved contracts at Aston Villa in the summer in recognition of impressive first seasons in the Premier League, provided the side retain their top-flight status. Although Paul Lambert has stressed that no decisions will be made on any of the players' futures until Villa know which division they are playing in next season, there is an acceptance that new deals should be offered to several players if the team survive. Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann, who have scored 34 goals between them, will be near the front of the queue but the manager also accepts that a couple of the players signed from lower-league clubs last summer, and who are way behind on the pay scale, deserve better terms because of their contributions. Lowton, who joined from Sheffield United, has been one of Villa's most consistent performers this term, with Lambert describing the 23-year-old right-back, who has scored a couple of spectacular goals and relishes the chance to break forward, as "the best player on the pitch by a mile" after the 6-1 victory over Sunderland on Monday night. Westwood, who arrived from Crewe Alexandra, has also caught the eye at times in central midfield.
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert has revealed several Aston Villa stars will get pay-rises this summer including England prospect Matt Lowton. Villa's priorities are tying down strikers Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann on new contracts. But boss Lambert admits others who have impressed since joining from the lower leagues, like right-back Lowton, are in line too. The Villans boss, who will open negotiations after securing top-flight safety, said: "There are definitely a few lads you would look at who I think have done really well."
The Sun: Paul Lambert is to reward his talented kids with grown-up contracts — if they keep Aston Villa up. Christian Benteke, 22, Matt Lowton, 23, Ashley Westwood, 23, and Andi Weimann, 21, have proved they are Premier League quality and their transfer values have soared. But Villa boss Lambo wants to keep the vultures at bay by giving his starlets new deals in the summer. He said: "There's a few of them you would think, 'Yes, he's done great for us'. "But we've still got to get across the line."
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert says Aston Villa must forget about their memorable 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland if they are to avoid the drop. Villa produced their performance of the season to smash the Black Cats for six in Monday's televised clash. It leaves the Villans on 37 points with survival in their own hands ahead of tomorrow's trip to Norwich. And boss Lambert is determined his 16th-placed side do not get complacent as he urged them onwards and upwards.
Sporting Life: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has already moved on from Monday's 6-1 hammering of Sunderland as he focuses on dragging his side to Barclays Premier League safety. The Scot has overseen an impressive revival at Villa Park recently, having struggled in and around the bottom three for much of this season only to time a run of form almost perfectly. Villa have taken 17 points from their last 11 games to leave them 16th in the table and five points off the relegation zone, with Monday's demolition of Paolo Di Canio's Black Cats significantly boosting their hopes of staying up. Lambert, though, has put the morale-boosting win to the back of his mind as he prepares to return to former club Norwich on Saturday.
ESPN: Paul Lambert has rejected suggestions that Aston Villa are being carried by in-form Christian Benteke. Benteke has 22 Villa goals to his credit in his debut season in English football but Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor also scored in the 6-1 rout of Sunderland, as well as skipper Ron Vlaar, and the manager believes he has an impressive all-round attacking armoury. And the Scot hopes the combination will enable him to make a second happy return trip to Norwich on Saturday, his team having won 4-1 there in the Capital One Cup quarter-final earlier this season.
Goal.com: West Brom manager Steve Clarke has warned relegation-threatened Wigan to expect no favours at the Hawthorns on Saturday in their quest to avoid the drop. Roberto Martinez's find themselves five points from safety after Aston Villa's thumping 6-1 win over Sunderland on Monday, but the Baggies boss has dismissed suggestions his side will go easy on the Latics as they have nothing to play for. Clarke admitted on Wednesday that he hopes Villa remain in the Premier League as the Midlands rivalry would benefit his squad, and he reiterated this point to the press on Thursday.
The Sun: Roberto Martinez has defied logic by claiming Aston Villa's 6-1 drubbing of Sunderland was GOOD NEWS for Wigan. Monday's victory took Villa five points clear of the Latics — giving them crucial breathing space in the relegation battle. It also means the final-day clash between the two teams at DW Stadium is less likely to be a winner-takes-all shootout. But Wigan boss Martinez said: "People have been saying that was a very bad result for us but I thought it was the opposite. "I felt it would be really dangerous just to leave that final place for a final showdown between Wigan and Aston Villa. "Going into the final day I'd rather have more than one or two teams involved."
Daily Mirror: Roberto Martinez claims Aston Villa's 6-1 mauling of Sunderland is GOOD for Wigan's survival hopes. Martinez refuses to be downbeat about the result, even though it leaves the Latics five points below the safety line with just four games remaining. The Latics boss may be in a minority of one, but he insists Villa's win is positive for his side because it has dragged Sunderland and Newcastle back into the relegation mire. Martinez feels Wigan's chances of staying up are better if there are four teams scrapping down there rather than just them and Villa.
Goal.com: Craig Gardner is looking to put the memories of Sunderland's heavy 6-1 loss to Aston Villa behind them by returning to winning way against Stoke on Monday. Following back-to-back victories over Newcastle and Everton, the defeat to relegation-rivals Villa has halted the Black Cats' charge to safety as they now sit just five points above 18th-place Wigan. Gardner feels the squad may have become complacent after their sharp upturn in form following new manager Paolo Di Canio's appointment, and the recent loss was a needed "kick up the backside."
Daily Telegraph: Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio believes his side's 6-1 thrashing at Aston Villa was caused by the "poison of too much positivity" after back-to-back wins and he assured the team's fans that lessons have been learned. Sunderland had recorded successive victories over Newcastle and Everton before the trip to Villa Park and Di Canio suggested the passionate support they had been given since then had affected the players.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert has revealed some of Villa's young guns could be rewarded with improved contracts if they keep the claret and blues in the Premier League in the coming weeks. Christian Benteke and Andi Weimann are already poised for talks at the end of the season after bursting on to the scene with a glut of goals in the current campaign. And Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood could also be in line for new deals as a reward for their contributions after signing on 'modest' terms compared to Villa's established players last summer. But Lambert, who insists on having a hands-on role in contract talks, admits the potential pay rises are dependent upon Villa securing their top-flight status. Negotiations will not take place until after the final three games against Norwich, Chelsea and Wigan, by which time Villa will know for definite which division they will be playing in next season.
Daily Star: Aston Villa's rising young stars will pocket bumper new pay deals - if they avoid the drop. Villa boss Paul Lambert revealed some of his young cubs are in line for wage hikes if they get over the line in their relegation scrap. Many of Lambert's fresh-faced squad were drafted in on comparatively low deals because they were untried at the top level. But a whole crop of them - including £25m-rated strike star Christian Benteke - have become established first-team players. The likes of Benteke, Andreas Weimann, Matt Lowton, Nathan Baker, Ashley Westwood and Joe Bennett are now poised for double-your-money deals.
The Times: Paul Lambert wants to make sure there is no trigger clause in Christian Benteke's contract when Aston Villa's prize asset is offered a new deal at the end of the season. "I don't think you can put any figures in because it just creates problems," said the Villa manager, conscious that Demba Ba was allowed to leave Newcastle for Chelsea for £7m in January. "It's important I'm involved," Lambert said.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert will be tempted to stick with the "six of the best" starting line-up who blamed Sunderland when Villa visit Norwich City tomorrow. With Ciaran Clark and Karim El Ahmadi still sidelined by foot and calf problems, Lambert will name the same squad for the Carrow Road clash. And the Villa boss is unlikely to change his starting line-up either after the club's most convincing Premier League win since they won 6-0 at Derby in April 2008.
Birmingham Mail: Dad-to-be Fabian Delph is tipping Villa's fresh-faced first-teamers to pass their "crèche" course in Premier League survival this month. All but three of the claret and blues starting XI in the 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland on Monday night were 23 or under.Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, captain Ron Vlaar and longest-servant Gabby Agbonlahor were the trio bringing the average age up. But Delph insists he and Paul Lambert's other young guns are mature lads who have grown up quickly this season.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert is reluctant to discuss Matt Lowton's England ambitions for fear of heaping pressure on the marauding right-back. Lowton has been mentioned as a possible future England international following his impressive rise to Premier League prominence. The 23-year-old defender volleyed himself into the spotlight with his stunning goal against Stoke and has stayed there following his fine display in the victory over Sunderland. Lambert took a chance on Lowton by signing him from League Sheffield United and instantly trusting him to play in the top-flight.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.