Paul Lambert backs improved Aston Villa to pick up points, beginning with Reading tonight


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The Independent Football

The Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, insists he has faith in his players to grind out a win in tonight's Premier League home game with fellow strugglers Reading after their performances against Manchester United and Arsenal.

Villa were edged out 3-2 by United after leading 2-0 and came within inches at the weekend of defeating Arsenal when Brett Holman's shot hit the bar during the latter stages of the goalless draw.

Villa climbed out of the relegation zone for 24 hours with that point but dropped back into the bottom three after Southampton's victory over Newcastle on Sunday.

Lambert said: "When you play Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in back-to-back games it's a tough thing mentally. But I thought against United we were excellent and we deserved something from the Arsenal game.

"Reading is a massive game but I think every game is. I never view any game differently. I think the Premier League is unforgiving. Tuesday will be a tough game but we're playing well."

Lambert will return to the dugout after serving a one-match touchline ban against the Gunners. The Villa captain Ron Vlaar is doubtful after the central defender suffered a calf injury against Arsenal and was substituted early in the second half. If he is ruled out, then Matt Lowton is likely to switch to partnering Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence with Eric Lichaj being recalled.

Reading midfielder Jimmy Kébé will miss the game after a recurrence of his groin injury.