Villa v Southampton preview: Lambert - Fans can drive us on
Boss Paul Lambert insists that the claret and blue faithful can drive Villa on to a big victory over Southampton this weekend.
Lambert stopped short of saying three points would ensure safety but he did openly admit that a maximum haul would put his team "within touching distance."
Villa are currently in 14th place on 34 points, four above the drop zone.
The manager is positive going into this Saints clash after overseeing "upbeat and excellent" training sessions at Bodymoor Heath this week.
He said: "The training over the last few days has been really upbeat. They're ready for it.
"We will go and try to win a game of football.
"The last four results haven't been good enough, no way.
"Everyone thought after the Chelsea win that we would drive on - but it's not happened.
"Now, you have to win a game of football. I know it's an old cliché. The game is all about players, always will be - and the supporters who come and watch it. We have to go and win a match.
"The lads have been excellent this week. They have been great. They really have. I am sure they will be ready for this one.
"Getting that win - that's all I am focused on. The lads are too. You get a win and it looks rosier. It's up to us to go and do it.
"You give the lads all the belief to go and win. We need the fans too.
"If there was ever a time you needed the supporters, it's right now - to get right behind the lads. I am pretty sure they will get right behind them.
"I know they're waiting for us to give them something in the home games. They have always been great.
"But the players need them to help drive them on. I have seen some great times at the stadium with the crowd right behind them. That's what the lads need at this time.
"They will come in their thousands. That's all I can ask - to come and support the team, which they will. We have to give them something back, I know. That's the mantra.
"The lads can go in and thrive on it because it's a great game for us to play in. The lads know the situation. They know what's at stake and everything that's there. They'll be ready for this.
"You've got to handle the pressure and handle the occasion to go and win."
On the principle that a win would ensure safety, Lambert continued: "I don't know because of the amount of games the teams have. But you'd certainly be in touching distance."
He thinks the esteem of Cowans is a big factor as well as the professionalism of Given.
He added: "I have a really good relationship with Gordon. I know his status at the football club. As everyone knows, he's a club legend.
"He's won the best trophy anyone could ever win. He's held in the highest esteem.
"He's a really nice guy too. He's probably one of the most revered football players at this club, along with the other lads that won the European Cup.
"I watched him in the final of the European Cup in 1982. In fact, I knew the Villa team off by heart that year but I also know how much he's respected here.
"Gordon has been great. Shay is the same.
"Shay has always been training with the first team, other than when he went to Middlesbrough on loan.
"He's been about the block and has been in massive games before. He knows the way the game works and he's come up and given me a hand as well.
"Shay is an experienced guy. It will be new for him, seeing the game from the other side of the fence as such but he's good with players around about him. He accepted it in seconds really.
"He's a fantastic pro, no two ways about it. He's been a brilliant goalkeeper and his career recognises that. He is a top guy and a top pro.
"He knows the game. He's 37 years of age and he knows exactly what the game is about.
"He's a funny lad in the dressing room too and, as I said before, he'll see the game a little bit differently. He will relish the opportunity."
Villa v Southampton
AVTV MUST SEE
Paul Lambert press conference - watch here
Pre-match show - watch here
Seats are still available for the clash with Southampton.
Buy tickets from Consumer Sales hotline on 0800 612 0970, in person at Villa Village and Birmingham New Street or from our online box office.
Leandro Bacuna is in line for a return to the Villa squad for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Southampton.
The Dutch utility player missed last weekend's trip to Crystal Palace with a hamstring strain.
But Bacuna has overcome the problem and will be available for the important top-flight showdown with Mauricio Pochettino's team.
Manager Paul Lambert confirmed the former Groningen man has resumed training and will be in the squad to face the Saints.
He added that there are no fresh injury concerns for his claret and blues side.
Villa will be wearing their traditional home kit of claret and blue.
Villa have conceded just six goals in their last 12 home league games against Southampton - and never more than one in a game in this run.
Rickie Lambert has scored three goals in three Barclays Premier League meetings with Villa, including the winning goal at Villa Park the last time out.
Southampton's last six clean sheets away from home have coincided with their last six away wins. They have not won a Premier League away game when they've conceded since November 2012.
Grant Holt has managed only one shot on target in eight appearances for Villa - but he scored with it.
Adam Lallana has provided only one assist in his last 15 Premier League appearances.
Gabriel Agbonlahor is Villa's top assister this season with five.
Villa have made fewer substitutions than any other Premier League side this season (78).
Southampton have allowed fewer shots from open play than any other Premier League side this season.
Aleksandar Tonev has had an eventful first season in English football - and he talks about it exclusively in the latest edition of the Villa News & Record.
The Bulgarian midfielder reveals his desire to score his first Villa goal and his hopes for next season as well as discussing his friendship with former skipper Stiliyan Petrov.
And Ryan Bertrand comes up with some fascinating answers in The Last Word.
In this issue we also talk to virtuoso guitarist Sam Coulson, the latest celebrity Villa fan to come to our attention.
Sam is now a member of rock band Asia - famous for songs like their 1980s hit Heat of the Moment - and there's a chance to win deluxe copies of the band's new album, which includes both a CD and a DVD.
Our Villa Vault section is also well worth a read as we look at six of the best Villa substitutes during the Premier League era and present an intriguing Q & A with Warren Aspinall.
At £3, the Villa News & Record is great value.
You can also buy the matchday programme on eBay too.
BetBright matchday odds:
Villa to win - 9/4
Villa's match console is the ultimate place to be to follow the game with Southampton.
Tune in from 12pm and be part of the claret and blue conversation.
Before the game starts, the match console will also contain pre-match analysis, interactive polls and a free video package previewing the game.
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Paul and Dan will bring you blow by blow action as the game unfolds as well as the thoughts of fans logging-in from all over the planet.
After the game, the match console contains a game report, manager's verdict, stat pack and a picture gallery.
You can boost the coverage of the game in the subscription-only area of the match console.
Here, you can enjoy live audio commentary, with Jack Woodward joined by Tony Morley on the microphone throughout the 90 minutes.
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