By Dan Harrison
Paul Lambert has backed Stephen Ireland to bring a creative spark to Villa's play this season.
Lambert is determined to get the best out of the Irish midfielder, insisting he has the ability to unlock opposition defences.
The Villa boss has been impressed with the contributions of Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia during pre-season so far.
Former Manchester City ace Ireland overcame a difficult first season in claret and blue to win the Supporters' Player of the Year award last term.
"He's a real talent, there's no doubt about that," said Lambert.
"It shows when he plays because there is a lot of creativity there, just like Charles.
"They are both really talented footballers.
"We will try to get the best out of them because they are very very clever footballers.
"We've got to get him in positions where he can hurt teams.
"I've got a fair idea of what I want to do with it.
"From the time I have been at the club I've not had any problem with Stephen, or Charles whatsoever."
Lambert hailed the effort and application shown by the players since he took charge.
The manager admits he couldn't ask for anything more from his squad during the pre-season campaign.
"I've got no problems with any of the lads here, they are a good group.I'm delighted with what they've given," he added.
"When I first got here I was never quite sure what I was going to get out of them because I don't know them.
"I didn't know them as people or as footballers but I can't ask for anything more from their attitude or the way they've been performing or their jobs in pre-season.
"The results are not the main thing for me it's to get them into that way of playing, making them feel good and ready for the season.
"I think they've been excellent."
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