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.
Jermain Defore celebrated his international return with a goal as they beat Lithuania 2-nil at Wembley.In the same group – Scotland managed a late 1-nil victory over Slovenia in Glasgow to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive.Elsewhere, Northern Ireland’s bid to qualify got a huge boost – with a 2-nil success at home to Norway.