Gareth Southgate warns Lambert to introduce Aston Villa youngsters gradually

The former Head of Elite Development at the FA feels the Scottish manager has plenty of talent at his disposal but must be careful in integrating them into first-team football
Gareth Southgate has warned Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert to gradually introduce academy players into the team, using his own experience as a youngster in a talented but overwhelmed Crystal Palace team as evidence for the perils of fast-tracking fledgling players.

The defender was at Aston Villa for six years in a spell that led him to become the club captain and lift the League Cup. But the former Middlesbrough manager recognised that his career didn't start off as well as he hoped.

He told The Sun: "I remember when I was a young player coming through at Crystal Palace, there were quite a few players who came through.

"It was a great experience for us, but unfortunately when we were all in the same team at once, we weren’t quite ready for the Premier League.

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"That was great for us as individuals but we weren’t really ready, and the club suffered.

"With lots of young players, you don’t know if they’re going to be good enough until they’re given the chance to play.

"It seems that this year at Villa and one or two other clubs, they’re being given that chance."

The former Head of Elite Development at the FA also believes that with patience and support, the team will be able to regain its standing as a top eight club.

Southgate added: "Paul did a fantastic job at Norwich, but a club can only be as successful as the structure and circumstances around it.
"Villa will have a tough season because at the moment they’re not able to recruit and invest at the very highest level.
"The expectations of the club are that it’s a top eight club and maybe at the moment they can’t compete with the clubs at that level.
"They’ve got a chance to build something now with a lot of hungry young English players, which was very successful for Paul at Norwich. Hopefully they will be able to do that over the next few years."