Aston Villa: Lambert's 'Young Lions' won't run before they can walk

"They're young, hungry and they need a lot of support." This isn't a tagline for the next Oxfam appeal, it is a reminder from Paul Lambert not to put too much pressure on Aston Villa's young lions.

After winning the NextGen Series and some excellent displays pre-season Villa fans are looking forward to the emergence of the next set of future Villa stars to roll off the Bodymoor Heath production line.

Fine displays from Jack Grealish, Gary Gardner, Samir Carruthers and Janoi Donacien have set Villa fans tongues wagging at what we can come to expect this season and an optimism that the first team will have to be on their toes to stay there. Paul Lambert has other ideas.

Paul Lambert last night told fans that he will not threaten the promising careers of these young players by handing them everything on a plate now - and potentially destroying their self belief.

"These boys have a great future ahead of them, but they are just boys. If you are looking for players like Jack and Sam to come into the team this year and surprise a few people then that isn't going to happen. They have had a fine time pre-season, but they need to learn the man's game. If somebody from lower down the leagues wants them (on loan) then we will have a look at that.

"They need to understand that for these players in the lower leagues it is a job and the way to pay their bills, they want to win and they need to perform to keep their job just like any one of you.

"If their is one thing I don't like about the modern game it is how soon some of these boys are handed everything. At 17 these boys can have club suits and cars, when I was starting out we were cleaning cars, cutting the grass with the groundsman and painting the dressing room wall.

"It was how you bought into the club because everywhere you looked you were part of it. It made you want to succeed so you were no longer the one cleaning the boots and the cars."

Lambert responded to questions about the long awaited potential of Gary Gardner to emerge by reminding fans that Gardner is not long back from a career threatening injury. Lambert was quick to recognise Gardner's ability, but said he will have a hard job displacing Delph and Westwood.

"Gary is a smashing lad, there is no doubting he has a bit of talent - but this is a big year for Gary he has to force his way into the team and that central midfield position is Delph and Westy's (Westwood) right now and they are only going to get better. He has the ability, (but) he has to show he can do it out there though because its a million miles away from Bodymoor Heath."

It will be refreshing to Villa fans to know that this is not just a reaction to budget restraints from the board though. Since Lerner arrived at Villa Park the big picture was always to nurture the best young players into the team at the right time to have a successful career at B6.

A look at the make up of Bodymoor Heath lays testament to that. Dressing rooms improve as the standard of football improves. The younger players have to start with a bog standard dressing room and earn the right to graduate to the next year group with improved facilities.

Lets hope the NextGen winners are enjoying plunge pools and jacuzzis with Benteke and Co. next year after proving Lambert right to further their footballing foundation degree in the Football League.

image: © ellbrown

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