Paul Lambert plays down significance of first match against Norwich since departure


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The Independent Football

Paul Lambert insists focusing on the need for Aston Villa to defeat his former club Norwich will be his top priority after his acrimonious summer departure from Carrow Road.

Lambert will do battle with Norwich tomorrow for the first time at Villa Park since he quit at the end of last season to take charge of the midlands club.

The Scot and Norwich are both suing each other for breach of contract and the matter will ultimately be decided by a Premier League managers' tribunal.

Lambert was upset when Norwich chairman Alan Bowkett made the matter public at a fans' forum last month and also claimed he had left all his previous clubs in a similar manner.

But his main objective is to revive Villa's season after one win in eight matches has left them occupying 17th position.

Lambert, who claims he has not spoken to Bowkett for two years, said: "The Norwich game only has spice because I left. It's not something that I'm really worried about or anything like that.

"It's just another game. I had a great three years there and if people want to deflect on to something else then I can't help that.

"There's some things that have been said which have been disappointing.

"But football moves on and it's a massive game for ourselves. We have to win, that is the bottom line."

Villa have triumphed only once in their last 18 Premier League games - a 2-0 home win over Swansea during the current campaign.

But Lambert said: "The pleasing thing for me is that we've been playing pretty decent stuff.

"It's not as if we've been going into any game with any trepidation.

"In the last two away games (at Tottenham and Fulham) we've certainly deserved more than what we've got."

Lambert insists his action is only a counter-claim to Norwich's charge he breached his contract when resigning five months ago.

When asked about Bowkett's claims, Lambert said: "I don't know because I've not spoken to the chairman for about three years.

"Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, maybe two. It's a good chunk of time. Why? That's football. Let him talk. We will see what happens.

"Could I have handled leaving Norwich any differently? Me, not at all. I took advice from the LMA and I know what is going on.

"It will be in the hands of a Premier League managers' tribunal and hopefully it will be sorted. But I've got nothing to be ashamed of. I've got nothing to hide."

Lambert concedes he is unsure what reaction he will receive from the travelling Norwich fans tomorrow.

He said: "I don't know, I really I don't know what reaction I'll get. I don't know. I'm not sure.

"There's been some things said which are not true and then they have only heard one side of things."

Villa are facing a potential centre-back injury crisis against the Canaries.

Richard Dunne (groin) is definitely ruled out while Nathan Baker (ankle) and Ciaran Clark (knee) will be assessed later today.

Matt Lowton is on stand-by to switch into the centre with Eric Lichaj in contention to earn a recall as his replacement at right-back.