Lambert keen to keep Ireland and N'Zogbia at Aston Villa

After taking over at the end of last season from predecessor Alex McLeish after a deeply disappointing league finish last term, the new boss is eager to give everyone a fresh slate

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has reiterated his desire to keep Stephen Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia at the club.

Both players have come in for some criticism for failing to live up to expectations since their big-money moves to Villa Park, with form and fitness eluding the pair for the most part.

However, Lambert has been pleased with what he's seen so far of the duo during pre-season, reserving special praise for Ireland in particular.

"He's [Ireland] a real talent, there's no doubt about that," Lambert told the club's official website.

"It shows when he plays, because there is a lot of creativity there, just like Charles. They are both really talented footballers.

"We will try to get the best out of them, because they are very, very clever footballers.

"We've got to get him in positions where he can hurt teams. I've got a fair idea of what I want to do with it.

"From the time I have been at the club I've not had any problem with Stephen, or Charles whatsoever."

The club will be looking to improve upon last season’s poor 16th-place finish in the upcoming campaign as they begin with an away fixture against West Ham on August 18.