Paul Lambert admits the expected return of Aston Villa skipper Ron Vlaar will provide a "huge lift" ahead of a crucial four-day period for the midlands club.

Vlaar was recruited from Feyenoord in the summer to be the lynchpin of manager Lambert's reshaped defence, but he has been sidelined for seven weeks with a calf problem and during that period Villa have leaked a flood of goals - 22 in the last seven games.

But the Holland international is set to play in Saturday evening's Barclays Premier League derby at West Brom ahead of Tuesday's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg meeting with Bradford. And Lambert said: "There's a good chance Ron will be back. His return could be huge and would be a big lift."

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