Aston Villa - Southampton Preview: Backroom drama threatens to undermine hosts

With work still left to do to confirm their Premier League status for another season, two key Villans staff have been suspended, leaving Paul Lambert in need of a calming result
Aston Villa will be desperate to put a difficult week behind them when they host Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

The club have come under the spotlight with the announcement that two of Paul Lambert's backroom staff - assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa - have been suspended pending an internal investigation.

4/1 Aston Villa are 4/1 with Paddy Power to beat Southampton by one goal
Villa and Lambert have refused to expand on the reasons behind this decision and Shay Given and Gordon Cowans have been promoted to assist the Scot in his first-team duties in the meantime.

Chairman Randy Lerner came out on Wednesday to hail the "loyalty and commitment" shown by the trio and Lambert declared that he and the American continue to get on well.

"We still have a good relationship and it's never been a problem," the former Norwich City manager told the press. "I've just got to do my job day by day. My whole intent is to be here next year and the year after that."

Villa's off-the-pitch issues are sure to have come as an unwelcome distraction to Lambert as he looks to arrest the club's alarming slide towards the bottom three.

The Villans have lost four Premier League games in a row and sit 14th in the table, just four points above the relegation zone.

A fifth consecutive defeat would leave nerves jangling around Villa Park but eighth-placed Southampton have been assured of their third successive season in the top flight for some time.

Mauricio Pochettino's men look set for a top-half finish, although back-to-back losses to Manchester City and Cardiff City have dented their chances of rising any higher than their current position.

Despite the fact that the Saints are facing something of an anti-climactic end to their season, their manager believes that the majority of clubs in the Premier League would swap places with his side in an instant.

"I don't think our season is going to peter out," the Argentine said at Thursday's press conference. "Other teams would love to be in our position. To be in the Premier League next season is a big achievement."

Pochettino will be without Maya Yoshida (knee) and Gaston Ramirez (knock), as well as long-term absentee Jay Rodriguez (knee), for the trip to Villa Park, although first-choice keeper Artur Boruc is fit to return after a back problem.

Lambert, meanwhile, has no new injury worries, with Leandro Bacuna available after shaking off a hamstring injury.