April 13, 2013
Bent close to fitness
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.2||1.2|
|Goals against *||1.5||1.6|
|Last 5 home||L-W-D-L-W||L-L-L-L-W|
|Last 5 away||D-W-L-W-W||W-L-D-L-W|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Aston Villa | Fulham|
Aston Villa striker Darren Bent is nearing a return to full fitness ahead of the visit of Fulham on Saturday.
Bent made a brief appearance from the bench last weekend in the 3-1 win over Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, but is still short of match sharpness.
Manager Paul Lambert is also keeping an eye on the fitness of defender Ciaran Clark, He is back on the training ground following a shoulder injury while on international duty for the Republic of Ireland, and providing he suffers no reaction could feature in the travelling squad.
Defender Chris Herd and winger Marc Albrighton (both foot) plus defender Richard Dunne (groin) remain on the casualty list.
With more teams being pulled into a potential relegation fight, a win against Fulham this weekend would see Villa sitting just three points below the Cottagers who are currently in 11th position.
Lambert insists that despite a run of three wins from four there is no danger of his young side resting on their laurels.
"I think they know that themselves,'' he said. "I don't sense any feeling that they feel the job's done and they know the hard work's still there, but they also know that they're playing really well at the moment.
"The more that we can keep winning the more it'll happen and they'll get used to that feeling. If we do get that winning feeling and we're at it then we're a really good side that's for sure.
"If you keep that collective thing and that spirit then that's half the battle. It's a team thing. If you look at the most successful teams then everyone's pulling the same way and this isn't any different.''
Fulham midfielder Eyong Enoh will undergo a late fitness test ahead after injuring his ankle against Newcastle last weekend.
Cottagers boss Martin Jol is already without midfielders Steve Sidwell (suspension), Ashkan Dejagah (ankle) and Mahamadou Diarra (knee).
Dejagah will undergo ankle ligament surgery next week, joining Diarra on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
Fulham captain Brede Hangeland is determined to end Villa's recent revival - and claim the victory that Jol believes will guarantee their Premier League safety.
Villa have climbed out of the bottom three with a run of three wins in four matches but their position is still precarious, just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Fulham are in mid-table but Jol is nervous about being dragged back into the scrap over the final seven weeks of the season and called for one more win to ensure their safety.
"Every game in this league is tough but Villa are desperate for the points as they're trying to avoid relegation,'' Hangeland told Fulham's official website, www.fulhamfc.com.
"They've come into a bit of form lately so they will be hoping for that to continue - but we want to win as well.
"If we can get back to the form we've shown this year then we have to be in with a shout."