Lambert silent over suspensions

Paul Lambert has refused to comment on why two of his backroom staff have been suspended ahead of Saturday's clash with Southampton.

Villa announced on Tuesday that assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa had been replaced by club legend Gordon Cowans and goalkeeper Shay Given on a temporary basis while an internal investigation is carried out.

Manager Lambert would not be draw on the issue at Thursday's press conference, with the Scot focused on arresting a run of four consecutive defeats that has dragged Villa back into relegation trouble.

"You will need to appreciate due to a legal investigation I can't really comment on it," the 44-year-old said.

"I expect you to ask me the question but I want to talk about the football. I appreciate your question but you have to respect my position."

Lambert, who received the backing of owner Randy Lerner this week, has no doubt that former midfielder Cowans and the experienced Given can fill the void left by Culverhouse and Karsa.

"Gordon is an absolute club legend," the former Norwich City manager said. "He's won the highest honour in the game. I have a good relationship with Gordon.

"He has been willing to come up and help and Shay is the same.

"He (Given) has been about the block been involved in massive games before and he has come up and given me a hand as well."

Given was left out in the cold at Villa Park and spent a loan spell with Championship side Middlesbrough earlier this season.

Lambert has hailed the former Republic of Ireland man's professionalism and explained that the 37-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements due to financial reasons.

"It was not an awkward situation," he said.

"I have always got on well with Shay, he has always trained with the first team.

"I told him the situation due to finances and he was great. He is an experienced guy, he is good with players. It wasn't hard and he accepted within seconds."

Villa are 14th in the table, just four points better off than third-bottom Fulham with a game in hand.