Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert today revealed he has found it difficult to leave out some of the club’s experienced stars in favour of blooding his young guns.
Club-record signing Darren Bent was dropped for “football reasons” earlier in the campaign, while Stephen Ireland has not made Villa’s last four match-day squads after he was axed recently.
“It is tough to leave an older player out, especially a seasoned one who has played 100 or 200 games,” said Villa boss Lambert.
“But you always have to make the decision which is right for the football club. You hope when you do leave someone out that they understand and are professional about it.
“I do always try and tell the experienced ones beforehand that I’m going to leave them out so it’s not a shock to the system when the team is read out.
“As I’ve said before, if you’re good enough I’ll pick you, irrespective of age or where you were playing.
"People shouldn’t allow themselves to think that just because you come from a lower league means you are an inferior player.
“You know that when you bring in young players they don’t have a fear or feel the pressure as much as when they get a bit older.
"I don’t have a problem playing young players at all, if they’re good enough then I’ll throw them in – everyone has to have an opportunity to perform.”
Villa are currently in the Premier League’s bottom three ahead of back-to-back fixtures against Reading and Queens Park Rangers – both below them in the table.
But Lambert has not calculated how many points the claret and blues require from their remaining matches to beat the drop.
He said: "We don’t have a points target as such because you can never be sure how well a team is going to do. There are a lot of points to be played for over the next 10 games, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
“With the way the lads are playing at the moment I can see us picking up some really good wins. In respect of a points target I’m really not sure what is going to be enough to keep any of the teams up.
“Nobody was expecting us to get anything from games against likes of Manchester City – now we are into the games where teams are in and around us.”