Steve Staunton hope Capital One Cup can be springboard for Aston Villa

Bradford stand in way of final place

Steve Staunton thinks success in the Capital One Cup will help Aston Villa drag themselves away from the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

Villa travel to Bradford tonight for the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.

The midlands side started the season full of confidence following the appointment of highly-rated young manager Paul Lambert, but with just over half the season gone Villa sit just one point above the relegation zone in 16th place.

Given the youthful make-up of the Villa squad, many have predicted a nervous second half of the season for Lambert's side, but former Villa defender Staunton hopes the players can get to the Capital One Cup final and use that will have a positive effect on their league form.

"You hope this will be a good distraction for them," Staunton said.

"Hopefully the confidence of the younger players will get a massive boost if they get to the final and hopefully that boost can be carried in to the league form where they can carry on, get away from the relegation zone with some good results and hopefully as the years go on become a very good young team."

Staunton came close to being relegated twice during two spells with the club and he has warned that Villa should not think they are immune from the drop because of their status as one of the top flight's big clubs.

"It's not a given that they are safe from relegation," the former Republic of Ireland manager said.

"There are three teams from seven or eight who could go down.

"There is only a couple of points separating them. One defeat can throw a team in to an awful lot of trouble."

Having helped the team through to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, Lambert could retain the services of striker Darren Bent, who had previously fallen out of favour with the Scot.

Rumours persist that Bent will leave the club this month, but Staunton would like him to stay and form an effective partnership with his main rival Christian Benteke.

"It would be nice to see them both together and get a run of games together as a pair," Staunton said.

"Darren Bent's goals will be important and Benteke has done well for the squad. They are two quick lads. Benteke is very good in the air and we know Bent can score goals so I hope that we'll be able to see them together."

PA

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