Meanwhile, Lambert has praised the fighting qualities of club captain Stiliyan Petrov in his year-long battle to overcome acute leukaemia. Petrov has again hinted that Petrov could eventually slot into a coaching role at Villa although recovering from his current illness is the number one priority. It is exactly 12 months since the Bulgarian was diagnosed with the illness. It was announced publicly on March 30. Asked about the chances of Petrov moving into coaching, Lambert said: “That is a wee bit away. I don’t think he could do the stressful job of being a manager. I think maybe he would like to work with younger kids or something like that if that was a field he was going to go down. “He was a great player and could give advice to everyone but the main thing is he recovers fully from a horrible illness. Thankfully he is getting there. Nearer the time I will speak with him. We will have to see how he feels.” Petrov is in remission and Lambert has nothing but admiration for the way his former Celtic team-mate has tackled the challenge. He said: “I am always in contact with Stiliyan. He is doing great and I don’t think anyone in this room can imagine what he has been going through, the way he has battled so strongly. He is doing really well and hopefully it’s not too long before he comes out of that stage he’s at. “Stiliyan has been a big, big loss to us. I can’t imagine what he has gone through at certain times. The way he has come through that has been unbelievable. Lesser people – no wonder they struggle through it. He was a really close friend of mine at Celtic and I’m delighted he is getting there.” The striker suffered a foot injury in training last month and there were initial fears that he may be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. But the £24million capture from Sunderland two years ago is back in contention after missing only four games with his latest setback. Villa manager Paul Lambert confirmed: “Benty is back training. He had a little flu bug there for the last few days but I think he’s okay. He trained yesterday (Wednesday) morning so he’s back. He got a kick in training, one of the lads caught his foot. It was a bit tender to kick the ball, but he’s okay. It could have been worse, but he’s okay now.” Press Association Aston Villa have received a boost ahead of Sunday’s home game against Liverpool with record signing Darren Bent returning to full training.
by Malik VincentFor New Pittsburgh Courier Allderdice head coach Andre McDonald preaches defensive toughness to his players. If you ask anyone on his staff or somebody he’s coached, they swear by it. In fact, the Dragons have proudly sport the nickname “HAWK-D” on their warm-ups for the past five years and since this season—their uniforms. But they aren’t the only ones who do.“It was uplifting to hear the entire student body chanting HAWK-D,” McDonald said. “It was really motivation to our guys to play the best game that we could.” ‘HAWK-D’—The Allderdice boys celebrate with the championship trophy after defeating Perry 73-63 in the City League championship game March 5. (Courier photos/William McBride) Led by senior Cameron Bailey’s 22 points and Eric Mallinger’s near triple-double, Allderdice (12-4, 17-7) won its second consecutive City League boys basketball Championship over top-seeded Perry, 73-63, at Peabody High School on Saturday.“It was a great contest,” Bailey said. “But I have to give much credit to our coaching staff, they had a great scouting report and they did everything they could to get us prepared for battle.”Perry had been the favorite to win it all after surrendering one conference game all year and defeating Allderdice in both of their regular season meetings.“I realized we needed to be prepared this time,” McDonald added. “We broke down the film from the last four meetings and made sure that we were going to come out and compete at our highest level.”Junior guard Justin Dobbs added a game-high 23 points for the Dragons and admits that he got off to a slow start.“My shot was off early so I eventually got to a point where I was just trying to get to the foul line.” Dobbs said. “We started to run the pick and roll and once that happened, I was fortunate enough to start making good decisions with the basketball.”Mallinger finished with nine points, 11 blocks, and 16 rebounds.“I knew that the offense was going to come,” Mallinger said. “I take pride in doing what I need to do on the defensive end. The coaches and I don’t even need to discuss that. I just try to go out there every game and crash the boards, as well as to make plays on defense.”Perry’s normal leading scorer, Marcus Smith, was held to only 10 points for the Commodores (15-1, 21-4). They were led by Bruce Grover’s 19 points and Greg McGhee’s 16, 11 of which he converted from the free-throw line.“We set out to build a strong program from top to bottom,” Allderdice assistant coach Jason Rivers said. “We’re the only team in the city that has a ninth grade program that feeds into our junior varsity, and goes into varsity. These kids do a tremendous job to get prepared to come up and win in this level.”