The former Villa Park defender says the semi-final tie against Bradford is an excellent chance for Paul Lambert's youngsters to prove themselves in what has been a testing season
Former Aston Villa defender Steve Staunton believes it is "crucial" that Paul Lambert's side record a victory in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at Bradford in a testing week for the Premier League strugglers.
The Villans came from behind to beat Ipswich 2-1 in the FA Cup on Saturday, and have a tricky tie against the League Two giant-killers on Tuesday before playing fellow relegation candidates Southampton this weekend.
However, while the former Ireland international describes the visit to Valley Parade as a "massive hurdle", he thinks Villa's youngsters can use the opportunity and experience on offer to go on and win the tournament.
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"It has been a difficult period but you're going to get that with a young squad. If they can get through to the final it will give the club time to get some of the older heads back.
"[The youngsters] have proved themselves on occasions, and on others have let themselves down badly, but you learn more in defeat than you do in winning.
"Hopefully they can come out of it. It's not going to be easy, and it won't be easy at Valley Parade."
Staunton expects Lambert to set up his team to attack the League Two promotion chasers from the off, but fears for the Premier League side if they attempt to protect a lead.
"[Lambert] set up his teams to go at the opposition rather than sit back, I don't think Villa are capable of sitting back and hanging on, if they do so they'll be in trouble," he warned.
"I think they'll go at Bradford. It'll leave them exposed at the back, but that's the nature of the beast."
And while they are not through to the final yet, Staunton feels the Premier League strugglers can go on to win the competition, even if favorites Chelsea also progress against Swansea.
"There's no reason why if Villa get there they can't beat Chelsea, but Bradford are a massive hurdle," he added. "As long as they don't take that tie for granted and get to the final, it could be their year."
Former Bradford defender David Wetherall believes the Bantams will be confident of causing another upset after knocking out both Wigan and Arsenal, but must get something from the first leg in order to reach the final.
"The two-legged nature of the tie will make it more difficult for Bradford - getting two good results rather than just that one-off that can happen," he admitted.
"If they're behind after the first leg it will be very difficult to turn it around away from home, but they will take a lot of confidence from the Arsenal victory."
Steve Staunton and David Wetherall were talking ahead of this week’s Capital One Cup Semi-Final first leg ties. Find out more about the competition on the official website at www.capitalonecup.co.uk or join the debate on the semi-finals on Twitter @CapitalOne_Cup using the hashtag #CapitalOneCup.