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Premier League

Lerner targets Lambert appointment by weekend


Aston Villa will step up their efforts to make Norwich's Paul Lambert their new manager before the end of the week.

Villa are finally set to make an official approach for Lambert as they look to find a successor to the sacked Alex McLeish.

Lambert has guided Norwich to two successive promotions and established them in the Premier League last season. But it is understood the Cannaries will not welcome such an approach and will fight hard to keep the Scot, who is operating on a rolling contract at Carrow Road.

It is believed Lambert is content at Norwich and he must decide whether Villa are a big enough attraction to persuade him to leave. They only avoided relegation from the Premier League by two points and had significantly to reduce their wage bill after debts of more than £50million for the year ending May 2011.

Villa owner Randy Lerner is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky in terms of replacing McLeish. He held talks with former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he opted to stay at Molde in Norway for family reasons.

Villa also spoke with advisors of Wigan's Roberto Martinez, who had initially rejected the chance to replace Gérard Houllier 12 months ago. But the wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, yesterday claimed Martinez, who held talks with Liverpool, was staying put.