Lambert: Villa not finished article
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes the club are a work in progress but insists he is happy with how the season is going.
Lambert has experienced a tough start to life as Villa boss since taking over in the summer, with his side dropping into the relegation zone last month.
The former Norwich manager has put his faith in youth, bringing in the likes of Ashley Westwood and Matthew Lowton, and that trust is starting to pay off with the club picking up five points from their last three games, moving up to 16th in the table.
"I am delighted with the way things are going," he said. "I think the lads have taken some unfair criticism at times. But now they are starting to get the praise that maybe they deserve.
"When we first came in, we knew we had to try and change certain things and we've done that. We are nowhere near the finished article. That's the big thing, but you keep building and building.''
Lambert added: "Some of the football we are playing is very good. You just need results to go your way and the last few games we've done really, really fine.
"We are only a few points off mid-table so we're not a million miles away. The young lads have been exceptional since the games with Swindon (in the Capital One Cup) and Sunderland. I couldn't ask for any more from them.
"The only game we've been reallly turned over since then was at Manchester City. In other games we've been in it, and slowly and surely we are starting to get there.''
Christian Benteke is likely to play a key role if Villa are to move clear of the relegation zone, and Lambert is determined to ensure that he is not lured away from the club.
Benteke, 21, has hit five goals, while also keeping record-signing Darren Bent out of the side. The Belgium international's recent form has already caught the eye of clubs around Europe but Lambert is determined to keep hold of the striker
"I have to hold on to Benteke. He's going nowhere," he said. "He's 21 and he can be anything he wants. He's not the finished article yet, but he's been absolutely brilliant and might not peak until his late 20s.
"He's a big lad and a target man but there's a lot more to him than that. The way the guy is playing, he has been exceptional for us. He is not the finished player at all but he is playing fantastic."
Meanwhile, winger Charles N'Zogbia is expected to resume training this week after a spell on the sidelines with a knee problem.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report