Aston Villa host Sunderland at Villa Park tonight, and manager Paul Lambert has praised the home support for the loyalty they've shown towards the club's young players ahead of the clash.

The Villains have been left a little short in experience this season, but what they have been blessed with is youth and longevity. Lambert commended the fans, and feels their influence has been similar to Borussia Dortmund's support in the Champions League. 

Lambert, a former player of the yellow and black outfit, told reporters: "The crowd have been fantastic."

"It's like the Dortmund crowd at the minute. It's the exact same when I was there. You give it everything you've got and they will respond that way. What makes that one is the fact the lads have come through the youth. The crowd have identified that. They are right behind it. That's what you try to do here.

Lambert is aware that the gamble on youth could have had a negative affect on fans in the Midlands, but is ecstatic with the contribution from the stands as many of the young lads have been forced to learn on the job during a baptism of fire into the top English league.

"I think a lot of people could have turned away. But the crowd have been fantastic, they have stayed with us. It's a club with history and tradition," he added.

Villa need a win against Paolo Di Canio's rejuvenated Sunderland side, who may welcome back goalscoring midfielder Craig Gardner. Villa gaffer Paul Lambert may hand Karim El Ahmadi a start after he impressed off the Old Trafford bench against the newly crowned Champions last Monday.

The home side are still without midfielder Marc Albrighton, defensive organiser Richard Dunne and defender Chris Herd. 

If the claret army get a win tonight they will go level on points with Sunderland, adding even more tension to tonight's relegation dogfight.

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