A broken foot saw now-Shamock Rovers striker Michael Drennan fall off the radar at Villa Park.
Drennan, 21, joined Villa in June 2010 from hometown club Evergreen FC and would go on to star for both the Under-18s and reserves over the following three seasons.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international seemed destined for a bright future in the West Midlands after impressing in 2012-13 NextGen Series-winning side, scoring six goals in six games, but a broken foot which forced him to miss the final three matches of the tournament would end up derailing his claret and blue career.
He would end being sidelined for the best part of 10 months after the break was mistreated and, while the promising front man had been training with the first-team prior to getting injured, he found that Lambert had all but forgotten about him upon his return.
He was sent out on short-term loan stints to Carlisle United and Portsmouth while attempting to regain fitness but, with his contract up in the summer and no future at Villa with Lambert at the helm, made the decision in January to head back to Ireland and join Shamrock Rovers.
“The first three years at Villa were really good and I scored a lot of goals but it was all downhill after the NextGen,” said Drennan. “But my injury wasn’t treated properly and it f***** me over as I was out for ten months when I should have only been out for three.
“I was with the academy when I broke it first and they said I didn’t need an operation as I was young so it would heal. That happened in early February and I went home and took a break.
“When I came back after the summer, it still wasn’t right. I went up to the first team and they told me it should have been operated on. There was no communication there.
“I had to have surgery and that kept me out for another four months. Then when I was coming back a groin injury added three more to that. It was a frustrating time.
On Lambert, he continued: “I just felt it was time to leave because the manager wasn’t going to play me. When he first came in he really liked me and wanted me in and around the team. After the injury, he just forgot about me, which wasn’t nice.”
Drennan has since scored once in his first five games for Rovers and, given his age, still hasn’t given up hope of giving English football another crack if he impresses with the League of Ireland club.
“I’m hoping to win titles and cups, do well in Europe, score a lot of goals and then hopefully get back over to England,” he added. “I might like it so much here that I will want to stay but my aim is to do the best I can.
“The most important thing is to work hard for the team and the goals will come.”