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Lambert relishing healthy competition for places

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Lambert relishing healthy competition for places

Paul Lambert believes the increased competition for places brought about by his early acquisitions in the transfer window will contribute to more consistent and stronger performances by Villa next season.

The Villa manager has strengthened his defensive options for the forthcoming season with new signings Jores Okore from Danish Superliga side Nordsjaelland and Antonio Luna from Sevilla.

He will also add Norwich City goalkeeper Jed Steer, 20, who becomes a free agent on July 1, to a firmament of four including Brad Guzan, Shay Given and Benji Siegrist.

In midfield Aleksander Tonev and Leandro Bacuna have arrived from Lech Poznan in Poland and Dutch Eredivisie club Groningen respectively, while 6ft 5in Danish international striker Nicklas Helenius expressed his desire to be part of Lambert's young, hungry and emerging team having completed a move from Aalborg BK.

"Having genuine competition for places is really healthy and, in fact, vital for any club that aspires to bigger and better things," Lambert said.

"For instance, Antonio Luna has come in and he will augment and enhance the defence and give us some more options there.

"He's played about 70 games in Spain and we all know the standard of football in La Liga.

"We know that defensively we need to improve from last season, overall as a team, so that's good.

"Bringing in Jed will also add to the goalkeeping department and helps with everyone pushing one another, learning from one another and making everyone better and wanting to improve.

"You want competition for places throughout the team, which is something we didn't have last season."

Christian Benteke, Ashley Westwood, Jordan Bowery and Joe Bennett all arrived within the final 72 hours of last summer's transfer window but Lambert's six signings so far will be able to integrate themselves into the squad from the beginning of pre-season on July 1.

"It's good that those guys will be able to settle in straight away and hit the ground running, that should help," Lambert added.

"We have a good pre-season programme mapped out with a training camp and some games in Germany, several more back here fairly locally as well as a game in Dublin before we play Malaga on the eve of the new season.

"Everybody's looking forward to it, not least our fans who were terrific and steadfast in their support last season and it will be great to give them something to shout about when the new campaign gets under way."

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AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 26th June 2013
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