sport

Lambert backing Delph to shine

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has urged Fabian Delph to grasp the opportunity to fill the void left by the international retirements of England midfielders Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

Delph has been named in England's squad for the friendly against Norway and the Euro 2016 qualifier with Switzerland next month.

With Michael Carrick and Adam Lallana unavailable through injury, Delph is in line to win his first senior cap and Lambert hopes the midfielder can cope with the pressure of representing England.

"Whoever follows those two lads - I don't think you ever replace those two brilliant footballers," Lambert said.

"No two players are the same, it's a new generation, a new time for England. You have got to have players coming through to hit those heights.

"Maybe England never won anything with them but they were top players. To fill that is a big ask for anyone.

"Comparisons are unfair because the two made over 200 appearances for England. It is a new generation, hopefully he will do well and stay in that squad.

"I hope he can handle it. If he goes in and feels overawed it will be hard for him. But he's earned the right to be there so everyone thinks good enough, now it is up to him to go and show what he can do.

"If you can't handle it in football it can hurt you mentally."

Delph has just a year remaining on his Villa contract at Villa Park after all deals were put on hold over the summer while as club searched for a new owner.

Lambert admits securing the future of Delph, who was a 6m signing from Leeds in 2009, is high on his list of priorities.

"As soon as you are getting picked for England things escalate, so we will have to sit and see what he thinks himself," he said

"This has been thrown at him. England will be first and foremost on his mind.

"The way Fabian is his contract won't enter his head at the moment, he's playing well."