Tim Holland speaks to Peter Mortimer about Lambert’s youth policy, Benteke’s goal drought and West Ham becoming Birmingham mark II

How do you rate Aston Villa's season so far

How do you rate Aston Villa’s season so far?

I had expected to progress a bit better than this under Lambert. His policy of signing youngsters, although admirable, is perhaps a little bit long term for me. I think we’ll be safe this year and hopefully with a few more signings in the summer we’ll be able to move up the table next season.

How do you think your summer signings have adjusted to the Premier League?

I had high hopes for Libor Kozak as he came here having been the top scorer in the Europa League. He’s done all right but his injury has curtailed his progress. Antonio Luna started well but has allowed the left hand side to become a bit of a weakness for us. Tonev has performed all right on the wing but I was expecting a bit more. Jonas Okore was again very unlucky with his injury as..

You signed Grant Holt and Ryan Bertrand already this transfer window. How have they performed so far?

Bertrand is exactly what we need at left back especially as my confidence in Luna had diminished in that role. He played well on his debut and I think his addition will definitely make us stronger in defence. I think Holt might be a good signing – he’s worked well with Lambert before but wasn’t great on his debut but he did replace Gabby who had had a great game before trying some unexpected crowd surfing.

Can you see any further signings?

I think we’ll try to strengthen our attacking options in this transfer window. We’ve been linked to Leigh Griffiths but I’m not sure he’s the answer. Apparently we’re competing with you for Lescott as well but I can’t see him leaving Man City personally unless he moves to Beskitas for big money.

Benteke shunned a summer move and stayed in the Midlands. How would you rate his second season at the club?

He’s been quieter than last season but I think that was to be expected. He’s still our top scorer and has scored some crucial goals. Every striker has a goal drought at some stage and fortunately he got over his and with the World Cup beckoning hopefully he can build on his performances against Arsenal and Liverpool.

What’s been your opinion of West Ham this season?

Where to begin? I think Allardyce has lost the dressing room and the fans and for that reason the performances haven’t been there. Big Andy needs to start performing otherwise I think it’ll be back to the Championship with you and you’ll start your metamorphosis into Birmingham mark two.

Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Aston Villa first XI when the club’s meet?

An in-form Benteke is a match for any team and I think Grant Holt’s power and aggression will be an issue for your defenders. Gabby Agbonlahor has been in a bit of from of late as well.

Which West Ham players would you have in your squad?

I like your ‘keeper Adrian – I think he’d make a worthy understudy for Guzman. I think Reid is a great player as well and I think you’ve missed him a lot over the last few matches.

What’s your prediction for the match and both clubs this season?

I think it’ll be a close game so I’ll go for 2-1 to us. In terms of the season, I think Aston Villa will finish 14th and West Ham will, sadly, finish 19th.

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