The Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, believes his young side are mentally strong enough to recover from the club's worst start to a season since the relegation campaign of 1986-87. Villa have just five points from their first eight matches and Saturday's defeat at Fulham made it 13 since their last Premier League win on the road. But Lambert remains confident.
"There were a lot of good things there. I am disappointed to lose but I can't be too disheartened with the way they played," he said.
"It is important [the players] don't get their heads down. I have told them that. They will get knocks along the way and it is how you bounce back. I really don't think we are far away from getting the results we want."
Lambert has denied rumours of a rift with Darren Bent and insisted that the striker, who was ineffectual on his recall after being dropped for two games, was not up for sale.
"It never has been an issue. I just try and pick a team that I think can win. I don't have a problem with any of the players," Lambert said. "I thought [Bent] did really fine."
Fulham: SCHWARZER 6/10, RIETHER 6, HUGHES 6, HANGELAND 7, RIISE 6, RODALLEGA 6, SIDWELL 7, BAIRD 7, RICHARDSON 7, BERBATOV 7, PETRIC 6
Aston Villa: GUZAN 6, BENNETT 6, BAKER 7, VLAAR 7, LOWTON 7, DELPH 6, IRELAND 6, EL AHMADI 7, HOLMAN 6, BENT 7, AGBONLAHOR 6
Goal: Fulham Baird 84. Substitutes: Fulham Diarra 6 (Petric, 64), Dejagah 6 (Richardson, 70), Karagounis (Sidwell, 84). Aston Villa Lichaj (Baker, 62), N’Zogbia 6 (Ireland, 66), Benteke (Bent, 75). Booked: Fulham Riise. AV El Ahmadi, Lichaj. Man of match Berbatov. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Fulham 57%. Aston Villa 43%. Attempts on target: Fulham 8. Aston Villa 4. Referee C Foy (St Helens). Attendance 25,693