Lambert praises Bennett but calls for more competition in Aston Villa squad

The Villans manager has praised the ever-improving 23-year-old left-back for his efforts last season but says that competition for places is vital for the club to improve
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has praised left-back Joe Bennett for his performances last season despite the 23-year-old enduring a challenging campaign.

The Scottish boss admitted the young full-back had struggled at times last season, though lauded his bravery and progression, and believes he would benefit from more competition in the squad.

7/1 Aston Villa are 7/1 with BetVictor to be relegated next season
"Joe’s getting better there is no doubt," Lambert told the Birmingham Mail. "He has been getting used to the league and the type of player he is going to be up against.

"Like anybody we will try and improve the squad everywhere. You have got to have competition and somebody breathing down your neck for your place but his performances over the last few months have been really high.

"Even in the hard times he didn’t hide, I think you can talk about people being brave but trying to take a ball in front of 40,000 people – that’s brave.

"To be fair to him he is a young lad but he has taken a lot on board the past few months."

Lambert's desire for more competition in his backline could be fulfilled if the club are successful in their reported efforts to agree a deal for 22-year-old Sevilla defender Antonio Luna.

The club have already been busy in the transfer market ahead of the 2013-14 campaign, with Aleksander Tonev, Jores Okore and Leandro Bacuna all signed, while Andreas Weimann agreed a new three-year contract.