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Paul Lambert thinks Aston Villa can be in Europe in three years

Lambert believes Villa can be challenging for Europe if they follow his three year plan

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 14 December 2012

Paul Lambert believes Aston Villa will be challenging the top six again in two years’ time.

Villa’s boss has echoed the thoughts of managerial colleague Brendan Rodgers by saying that he needs three full seasons to re-build the Birmingham club.

The Scot, whose side are at Liverpool today, has certainly given Villa a huge lift by reaching the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.

Big plans: Paul Lambert believes Villa can reach Europe in three years

Big plans: Paul Lambert believes Villa can reach Europe in three years

But in the Premier League he has yet to orchestrate a similar upturn. Villa remain outside the relegation zone on goal difference and are the lowest scorers in the competition so far.

And while he sees the green shoots of recovery, he says that just like the Reds’ chief he is working to a three-year plan.

Asked whether that was a realistic turnaround time, Lambert said: ‘Yes, I think so. You have to progress, you can’t stand still. You have to keep going.

‘If you looked at Villa’s fans the other night, then they are desperate for us to move forward.

‘They created some atmosphere the other night. They are hungry for it, I want to do my best, but you can’t do it overnight.’

A sickness bug has swept through Bodymoor Heath this week. Stephen Ireland, Darren Bent and Enda Stevens have all been laid low by the virus.

Lambert confirmed that Bent will miss Villa’s Premier League programme over Christmas.

The England striker has received the results from a scan on his hamstring tear and Villa’s boss confirmed he will be missing for up to a month.

Out: Darren Bent has suffered a hamstring injury that puts him out of action

Out: Darren Bent has suffered a hamstring injury that puts him out of action

Lambert said: ‘He went for a scan on Wednesday and he has got a problem with his hamstring which will keep him out for a few weeks.

‘Is he out of the Christmas games Yes, probably, the way it is looking.

‘I think a few weeks. Maybe four weeks, I’d say, before we see him back.’

Bent will miss the clash at Anfield along with Enda Stevens, Ron Vlaar and Richard Dunne.

Stephen Ireland was also absent from training earlier this week but returned on Thursday and will be fit to travel to Merseyside.

Aston Villa aim to ruin Harry Redknapp"s Loftus Road welcome party

Lambert ready to act the Villain for Harry's Loftus Road welcome party

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UPDATED:

20:51 GMT, 30 November 2012

Paul Lambert has warned Harry Redknapp that his Aston Villa side are happy to play party-poopers, saying: ‘We want to keep QPR down there.’

A narrow win over Reading on Tuesday has lifted a little pressure from the Scot’s own shoulders as the Birmingham club jumped out of the bottom three this week.

Three more points will lift Villa to within sight of mid-table and Lambert said that while he knows QPR will be boosted by Redknapp’s arrival, he has no intention of joining in the merriment.

Preparations: Gabriel Agbonlahor and Aston Villa in training at Bodymoor Heath on Friday

Preparations: Gabriel Agbonlahor and Aston Villa in training at Bodymoor Heath on Friday

‘Harry going in there will automatically give them a lift, as he is a brilliant manager,’ said Lambert. ‘It’s an extremely tough game for us. But we would be happy to win and keep them down there.’

He revealed Richard Dunne may have played his last game for Villa, given his mystery groin and hip problem. He is out of contract in the summer, so may move on in January.

Talking tactics: Harry Redknapp (left) at QPR training on Friday morning

Talking tactics: Harry Redknapp (left) at QPR training on Friday morning

Paul Lambert wants Darren Bent to show desire

Show your worth! Lambert wants Bent prove desire in training if he is to get back into Villa team

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UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 20 November 2012

Paul Lambert says Darren Bent needs to show desire and commitment on the training pitch if he wants to play for Aston Villa.

The exiled England international is recovering from an ankle problem and has been left out of Villa’s last two matches.

But prior to that he had been squeezed out by the former Scotland international who had dropped the club’s leading goalscorer for the past two seasons to the bench.

Passion Paul Lambert wants Darren Bent to show some desire in training

Passion Paul Lambert wants Darren Bent to show some desire in training

Lambert insists relations between the two are amicable but with Villa dropping into the bottom three, there is mounting pressure on the ex-Celtic man to win the club’s next two matches against Arsenal and Reading.

Bent was close to returning at Manchester City but is expected to be fit for the Gunners’ trip to Villa Park this weekend.

Lambert said: 'There isn’t an issue — at least not at my end there isn’t. I have twenty-odd lads to look after.

'Goalscorers are the same, they thrive on scoring. The team is playing well and talking about Darren is deflecting from other guys who have come in and done really well.'

Asked directly whether Bent had to prove his point at Bodymoor Heath, Lambert responded: 'Everyone has to show their worth. I have no favourites. I judge them as equals. I’m trying to get the best out of them and I’ve got to do what it takes to get the best out of them.'

Meanwhile, Villa’s boss has rejected a move by Hull City boss Steve Bruce to take Shay Given on loan.

Competition: Christian Benteke has been in good form since joining the club

Competition: Christian Benteke has been in good form since joining the club

The Tigers' chief is on the look-out for a new keeper and was hoping to strike a deal with the out-of-favour Ireland international.

Bruce had offered Given the chance to play on a regular basis but was unable to cover the whole of the veteran’s 3m-a-year salary.

But Lambert said that he was unwilling to allow the 36-year-old out on a temporary basis at the moment.

Australian Masters 2012: Adam Scott beats Ian Poulter

Scott pips Poulter for Australian Masters to end trophy drought after final-day surge

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UPDATED:

11:40 GMT, 18 November 2012

Adam Scott edged out playing partner Ian Poulter in a final day shootout to break a 15-month tournament drought and claim his first gold jacket at the Australian Masters in Melbourne.

Scott took on one of the fiercest competitors in world golf and beat him in a head-to-head battle at Kingston Heath, with the world No 5 overturning a one-shot deficit on the final day to win by four strokes at 17 under par.

The Australian's final round score of 67 was five shots better than Poulter's, with the pair finishing well clear of the rest of the field.

Late surge: Adam Scott pipped Ian Poulter to the Australian Master in fron of his home crowd

Late surge: Adam Scott pipped Ian Poulter to the Australian Master in fron of his home crowd

New Zealanders Gareth Paddison and Mark Brown had a close battle for third place, but had to settle for a share of the spoils some eight shots behind Scott.

Scott and Poulter went shot for shot over the first 11 holes, but the Englishman made bad mistakes on the two par fives on the way home that ultimately led to his downfall.

Poulter opted for a hybrid out of a fairway bunker at the 12th and could only move the ball forward 20 metres into more sand, before finding a greenside trap with his approach shot and settling for a bogey.

That put him two behind Scott and when he shot over the back and failed to get up-and-down at the 14th, the Australian's advantage was out to three.

Scott only had to make pars over the concluding stages to hold on and he did so with relative ease, before holing a birdie putt on the last to hammer the final nail into Poulter's coffin.

He did receive a minor scare when his playing partner birdied the tough par-four 16th to get back within two, but Poulter inexplicably missed a simple two-foot putt on the 17th green to give that shot back and put the result beyond doubt.

Such an anti-climatic finish seemed nigh-on impossible earlier in the day as the duo battled back and forth for supremacy over the front nine in a final-round pairing that felt more like a matchplay event.
Scott made a brilliant birdie-birdie start to go from one behind Poulter to one in front, but the Englishman fought straight back.

No cigar: Poulter missed out on the godl jacket

No cigar: Poulter missed out on the godl jacket

Sand trap: Scott battled hard on the final day to pull away from his playing partner

Sand trap: Scott battled hard on the final day to pull away from his playing partner

His approach at the third was stone-dead as he tapped in for birdie to tie it up, before edging one clear yet again when Scott failed to get up-and-down from a tough bunker at the fourth.

Scott then made three consecutive birdies starting at the sixth, with the pick of those coming at the par-four seventh when he rolled in a long putt for three to match Poulter's tap-in birdie and then cheekily mocked the Englishman's reaction from yesterday when he did the same thing to the Australian.

The pair shared birdies at the short par-three eighth and, as the wind increased later in the day, so did their scores.

However, Scott remained steady on the way home, with Poulter's meltdown on the two longest holes on the course proving the difference between the two players.

Queenslander Adam Crawford shot the best round of the day, with his 65 catapulting him up the leaderboard to finish in fifth at six under, while Peter Senior and Michael Hendry were a further two shots back in a share of sixth.

There were no final-round heroics from Graeme McDowell, as the Northern Irishman and third-highest ranked player in the field could only close with a 71.

That was good enough for him to share eighth spot with David Bransdon at two under.

Gracious: Poulter congratulated Scott after his win

Gracious: Poulter congratulated Scott after his win

Australian Masters 2012: Ian Poulter and Adam Scott in fight for gold jacket

Poulter in straight duel with Scott Down Under as in-form duo move clear of field

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UPDATED:

10:03 GMT, 17 November 2012

The race for the gold jacket at the Australian Masters is between Ian Poulter and Adam Scott after they stamped their authority on the tournament with superb third rounds at Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

Poulter fired off a brilliant 64 to be 13 under overall and will head into the final day with a slender one-stroke advantage over Scott.

Scott's up-and-down round of 67 was not as flashy as Poulter's but it was good enough to keep him within striking distance and some five shots clear of third-placed Matthew Guyatt.

On the march: Poulter holds a one-shot advantage over Scott heading into the final day

On the march: Poulter holds a one-shot advantage over Scott heading into the final day

Guyatt could only manage a 75 on Saturday and is at seven under, while Kiwi Mark Brown is alone in fourth a shot further back at minus six.

The rest are too far back, although Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell picked up seven birdies when out nice and early on Saturday to fire a five-under 67.

That score was easily the world No 24's best of the week and was good enough to move him into a share of 13th place at one under overall.

Brown matched that score later in the day, but the two stars on show were Scott and Poulter and they look to be the only golfers set to fight it out for the gold jacket on the final day.

All smiles: Ian Poulter

Adam Scott

Head-to-head: Poulter and Scott will battle it out for the gold jacket at the Australian Masters

Golf blog

Playing in the penultimate group of the day, Poulter and Scott matched each other for the majority of the round through two distinctly different looks and playing styles.

Poulter was dressed boldly in red and often cautious off the tee, while Scott was more conservatively clothed in a grey sweater and often outdriving the Englishman by over 50 metres on some holes.

The two contrasting styles were obvious to all following the marquee group in Melbourne's south-east and none more so than on the relatively short par-four 7th.

Scott boomed his drive just a lob wedge away from the green and tapped in for his three after his approach shot stopped within a couple of feet from the hole, while Poulter made his birdie the hard way.

He had to rely on a putt from just off the green rolling in after his long-iron failed to make the putting surface from quite some distance out.

The Englishman cheekily smiled at his playing partner once the ball hit the bottom of the cup as Poulter took a share of the lead for the first time during his round.

Scott joined Poulter and Guyatt out in front at the eighth when he made his third consecutive birdie, but from that point on there were only two players in contention.

It was a case of 'anything you can do, I can do better' for Scott and Poulter, with the pair going head-to-head on the inward nine and producing some outstanding golf.

They picked up another four birdies apiece on the way home and none more impressive than when they made a mockery of the short and tricky par-three 15th by making a pair of twos with relative ease.

A hole later they both dropped a stroke – it was to be Poulter's only blemish for the day – and, when Scott could not get up-and-down from the back of the 17th and had to settle for a bogey, the defending champion was out in front on his own yet again.

The duo then birdied the last in style to complete the day's showdown and will once again go head-to-head on Sunday when the Masters winner will be crowned.

Matt Jarvis delighted to join West Ham

Record 10.75m signing Jarvis delighted to join West Ham because of their rich history

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UPDATED:

10:27 GMT, 24 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

New West Ham winger Matt Jarvis says he is delighted to join the club because of its great history and tradition.

The 10.75million record signing was officially announced on Friday morning and could make his debut as early as Saturday lunchtime against Swansea.

He said: 'I'm delighted to have signed. It's a fantastic club and I'm pleased to be here. It's a great club and it's got great history and tradition. I know about Bobby Moore and the history and tradition that go with that.

New boy: Matt Jarvis (left) is delighted to be at West Ham

New boy: Matt Jarvis (left) is delighted to be at West Ham

'I'll be playing with some fantastic players and it'll be great to get into training and I'm looking forward to playing with them. Hopefully I will add a bit of pace, crossing and deliveries that will provide some assists.'

Jarvis is set to join up with his new team-mates at Chadwell Heath on Friday morning before travelling to Wales ahead of Saturday's mouth-watering clash.

'I've been told about how good the fans are hopefully they'll get behind me and I can show them what I can do.

Staight away: Jarvis could play on Saturday against Swansea

Staight away: Jarvis could play on Saturday against Swansea

'It'll be straight in and hit the ground running. There's no time to think about it, you've just got to get on with it, which is good. I hope to train with the team today and then travel up to Swansea.'

The midfielder, who was Wolves' Supporters' Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season in 2010-11 will wear the No 7 jersey.

Last season he was the most accurate Premier League crosser, adn the most frequent, with 56 finding a team-mate out of 218 crosses.

Paul Lambert at Aston Villa: No laptops and phones at training

Life under Lambert: Strict times for Villa players with no laptops and no phones at training

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 23 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

There are reminders of former Aston Villa boss Ron Saunders in Paul Lambert’s actions. The hard-line Merseysider, who won the First Division title 31 years ago, revelled in the role of tough guy. His chosen sport was boxing and he instilled a barrack-room mentality into the club.

But times have changed. Players have become all powerful. Managers have to fear where they tread.

However, Lambert has clearly defined his own territory. And that, basically, means the club’s luxurious 9million training base.

My rules: Paul Lambert has defined his territory at Aston Villa

My rules: Paul Lambert has defined his territory at Aston Villa

The latest intelligence from Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training base is that the Scot has banned his players from taking their mobile phones and laptops into work.

‘If you are a professional footballer, then it’s not your hobby, it’s your job,’ he told a fans’ meeting this week. ‘I think it’s important. You are at the training ground to work.

‘If you train the way you play, then I don’t have a problem with it. But iPhones and iPads are a distraction.

‘I’m here to win football matches not to play on a phone or computer.’

It is not as if those who have found themselves surplus to Villa — or Lambert — have little idea of his focus.

Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar were out of contract and due to leave as Randy Lerner chopped a wage bill that was close to spiralling out of control.

But James Collins has quit for West Ham and others are under no illusions as to their future roles.

Left back Stephen Warnock was taken to one side on Monday and told by the manager that he would have to train with Villa’s development squad. Alan Hutton has not been used at all since the first pre-season friendly at Burton Albion.

It appears harsh, but such is the current financial climate that such decisions have to be taken.

Of course, this should come as no surprise to many who have been involved with the Glaswegian before.

Strict: Lambert says training is the footballer's work-place and as such there should be no distractions

Strict: Lambert says training is the footballer's work-place and as such there should be no distractions

The erstwhile Champions League winner has marked himself down as a one-off from the days when he was one of the first to take advantage of the Bosman rule and win himself a contract at Borussia Dortmund, playing under legendary coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Lambert kept a pad at his side during those training sessions and made notes.

Indeed, he was so impressed by the Teutonic approach that he eventually snubbed the opportunity to take his coaching badges in this country and returned to Germany.

But there can be no doubt also of the influence of another former Villa boss, Martin O’Neill, upon Lambert’s thinking.

The Northern Irishman comes to life on match days. He is still referred to as ‘the gaffer’ by his successor at Villa Park and similarly courts a strong team ethic in all of his sides.

That trait runs through O’Neill’s teams and it was almost like stepping back in time for seasoned observers of the club when Lambert said: ‘Team spirit is absolutely vital.

No talking: Lambert has banned players from speaking to the media too close to a game

No talking: Lambert has banned players from speaking to the media too close to a game

‘It’s about 90 per cent of your game because, if you know the guy next to you is going for it for you, then you will do exactly the same and it will transmit to everyone else in the dressing room.’

But it is the idea of stamping his own identity on the club which has been a hallmark of his reign so far.

At Norwich City, the training ground was out of bounds to outsiders. Those not directly involved with the players were actively discouraged from entering the manager’s place of work.

It is similar here. He has banned any player interviews taking place within 48 hours of a match.

At Villa Park, the most outward sign of his authority has been moving the dug-out over the halfway line to be nearer the club’s core support in the Holte End.

And it was noticeable before kick-off at Upton Park last week that Lambert has also cherry-picked another idea from one of his former clubs. The pre-match ‘huddle’ was used at Celtic Park while Villa’s boss was a player under O’Neill and Darren Bent performed his captaincy duties by addressing his charges prior to kick off.

Not, in the end, that it made much difference. But the point is that Lambert is providing his players with the focus and environment in which to perform.

Whether they are up to the job in hand is another matter.

London 2012 Olympics: Liam Heath and Jon Schofield win bronze at Eton Dorney

Bronze for British duo as curtain falls on action at Eton Dorney

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UPDATED:

10:03 GMT, 11 August 2012

Britain's Liam Heath and Jon Schofield won a bronze medal in the men's K2 200m. Russia's Yury Postrigay and Alexander Dyachenko took gold.

More to follow…

At the double: The British duo claimed bronze on Saturday morning

At the double: The British duo claimed bronze on Saturday morning

Bradford 44 London 12: Bulls brush aside Broncos

Bradford 44 London 12: Bulls brush aside Broncos in eight-try battering

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UPDATED:

16:08 GMT, 8 July 2012

Bradford again made light of the turmoil afflicting the club to cruise to their second biggest win of the season and ensure London Broncos stay rooted to the foot of the Stobart Super League.

Full-back Brett Kearney grabbed four of his side's eight tries and former London half-back Luke Gale also played a starring role as the Bulls ended a traumatic week on a high with a third straight win.

Going over: Elliott Whitehead scores despite the attention of Broncos' Michael Robertson

Going over: Elliott Whitehead scores despite the attention of Broncos' Michael Robertson

Bradford, who lost two training sessions at the height of the crisis in the week, followed up their stunning victory at Wigan with another impressive win to maintain their play-off hopes ahead of an inevitable points deduction for going into administration.

The Bulls will now be hoping for another positive result before Tuesday's deadline set by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle to find a buyer.

The game went ahead with the help of staff sacked at the start of the week, including head coach Mick Potter and his assistants, while the return of the cheerleaders who withdrew their services at the previous home game presented an air of normality.

Gale warning: Luke Gale scores for Bradford

Gale warning: Luke Gale scores for Bradford

On the pitch it was routine for the Bulls against a Broncos side forced to play without their captain Craig Gower for the first time, after he pulled out through injury in the warm-up.

The visitors were also without prop Antonio Kaufusi, who was hurt in the Exiles' win over England in midweek, and they looked well down in confidence after winning just once in their previous 10 league matches.

Bradford dominated from the start and ought to have made more of clean breaks from Kearney and Michael Platt long before prop Manase Manuokafoa took Heath L'Estrange's short pass to crash over for his second try for the club on 11 minutes.

Taking control: Brett Kearney;s first-half try padded Bradford's lead

Taking control: Brett Kearney;s first-half try padded Bradford's lead

Kearney jinked his way over on 14 minutes and Gale was gifted his first try for the club three minutes later after London winger Kieran Dixon had lost the ball in a tackle 10 metres out from his own line.

Gale, who joined the Bulls from the Broncos at the start of the season, added all three conversions to put his side into an 18-0 lead.

Dixon pulled a try back midway through the first half but twice more illustrated his defensive weaknesses as Bradford increased their lead to 26-4 by half-time.

All smiles: Manase Manuokafoa celebrates scoring the opening try with captain Heath L'Estrange

All smiles: Manase Manuokafoa celebrates scoring the opening try with captain Heath L'Estrange

First he fumbled Gale's kick to allow his opposite number Shaun Ainsough to get second rower Elliott Whitehead over for a try and was then out-jumped by Ainscough as he collected Ben Jeffries' kick and put the supporting Platt over.

There was little respite for the Londoners after the break as Gale and Jeffries combined to get Kearney over for his second try within two minutes of the re-start and the Australian full-back took Platt's pass on 57 minutes to complete his hat-trick.

Brett set: Kearney goes over for the Bulls

Brett set: Kearney goes over for the Bulls

Loose forward Jamie Langley then burst clear to get Kearney over for his fourth and Gale kicked a sixth goal to take his personal haul to 16 points.

The Broncos finished a well-beaten side but they gained some consolation when centre Will Lovell scored his first Super League try.

Colin Montgomerie set to miss US Open

A 900-mile drive and Monty's still not there… former Ryder Cup captain set to miss US Open

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UPDATED:

20:26 GMT, 28 May 2012

Colin Montgomerie's hopes of playing in another major are in doubt after a 900-mile overnight gamble failed in the US Open qualifiers on Monday.

After a closing 81 in Sunday's BMW PGA Championship – his worst-ever score at Wentworth – Montgomerie drove home to Perthshire to fetch a putter.

No American dream: Monty is set to miss the US Open

No American dream: Monty is set to miss the US Open

He then turned round and headed back to Walton Heath, but after a promising first round 68 missed out on the 11 spots up for grabs following a 72 in his second round.

The 48-year-old said: 'Who in their right mind would do that But yes, I did. I left Wentworth at 2pm, was home at 8pm, had tea with the family, left at 11pm and got here just after 6am.'

Open qualifying at Sunningdale on June 25 is next as he bids to play in a 50th major.