By Paul Brown
Paul Lambert believes the pre-season tour of USA will be an excellent opportunity for his players to fire up their fitness as they face battle-hardened MLS sides.
Lambert is relishing the prospect of putting his side through the rigours of clashes against Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers.
All three teams are already into their 2012-13 campaigns and should be at peak levels as they face Lambert's Lions.
The Villa boss thinks this will help his own side as they click through the conditioning gears.
He said: "The travel is quite extensive, but it will be good to get everyone away together.
"The guys over in America are already into their season which means they will be tough opposition.
"That will help get everyone in the squad.
"They will be ahead of us in terms of a fitness level that's for sure.
"We are there for 10 days or so which is a long time.
"Pre-season is hard work and it might be tough but you have to get through it. It is long and can be hard at times but you always get through it. I'm sure this tour to the USA will be same."
Lambert once again reiterated that fitness rather than results was paramount in the run-up to the new campaign.
He continued: "Results in pre-season are not the be-all-and-end-all because you play six or seven friendly games and win every one and then find when the season starts you could be done in the first five.
"So they matter to an extent because it is nice to get in the habit of winning, but the main aim is to get people fit and into your way of thinking and then they will be fine."
Lambert also hailed Darren Bent, who was handed the captain's armband for the clash with Burton.
He added: "I gave the armband to Darren on Saturday and he's a top player, one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League.
"He's got it at the minute, but he's still got to justify me giving him it.
"He's brilliant, he's a very good lad and barring injuries I'm pretty sure he'd have been with England at the Euros.
"He is a key player for us because he is a proven goalscorer and I've seen some of his finishing in training, which is world class at times.
"I just picked who I thought was right for the captaincy."
Click here to buy season tickets for the new term as Villa embark on a vibrant new era.