Lambert issues Agbonlahor challenge

  • Last Updated: September 28 2012, 13:36 BST

Paul Lambert has challenged Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor to reproduce the stunning performance which helped dumped Manchester City out of the Capital One Cup on a consistent basis.

Gabriel Agbonlahor: Delighted Lambert on Tuesday night

Agbonlahor ended a eight-month goal drought with his brace at the Etihad Stadium to put him in contention to start Sunday's home Barclays Premier League derby with West Brom.

The one-time England striker has often flattered to deceive and injuries and playing at times in a wide role have meant a combined goal return of only 11 for the past two seasons.

But Lambert is hoping Agbonlahor will start firing on all cylinders as he challenges the likes of Christian Benteke, Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann for a place against the Baggies.

When asked if Agbonlahor's performance had given him food for thought, Lambert said: "Every time I pick a side it is hard but Gabby's performance the other night was exceptional.

"His two goals were fantastic and, if you get Gabby firing on all cylinders, then he is a handful.

"Consistency comes from within himself. He is at an age now where he has got to get consistency in his game as well.

"He is not a young 19-year-old anymore. He has been here for a right few years.

"But when he is on song like that, there are not many people who can stop him because his speed is incredible.

"He is a strong, strong lad, is a likeable guy, and at this moment in time, he is playing really well."

Lambert knows how much beating Albion will mean to Villa fans especially after finishing below them in the Premier League last season.

But he has stressed the need for his players to keep their cool after defender Chris Herd was sent off in the corresponding fixture last season.

He said: "The fans won't have liked that (finishing below West Brom) because they are their rivals. I know what derby matches mean to the fans.

"I've played in and seen enough derbies to know you've got to try and win them. I know they will come and back us after the other night.

"You can sense the fans are up for it. At the last home game against Swansea they were absolutely bouncing. This will be better, this will be something I'm looking forward to seeing.

"But you have a better chance of winning with 11 players on the pitch.

"I'm not an advocate of going to kick people.

"You try and play as strongly and fairly as you can but not over the top or anything like that."

Lambert was a team-mate of Baggies head coach Steve Clarke at St. Mirren and is not surprised by his success in the game.

He said: "I made my debut at St Mirren and Steve played behind me at right-back.

"He is a really top guy. I got a really good upbringing from lads like Steve and the other lads who were there.

"They put me on a good road to having an okay career.

"I'm not surprised by his success in management. He's his own man, had a great spell with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea as well, and he will know the game inside out."