Paul Lambert insists he is relishing the pressure of turning Villa into a Premier League power once again.
The Villa boss takes an injury-hit team to West Ham tomorrow to start of a run of fixtures against “mini-league” opponents after his side’s challenging start to the campaign.
Lambert has problems at left back, where both Antonio Luna and Joe Bennett, are injured while Gabby Agbonlahor is struggling.
But the Villa boss says he can handle the heat after last season’s survival skirmish and a mixed start to this new campaign.
“I’ve always been used to having pressure on my shoulders as a player,” said Lambert. “In management you’ve got to try and get results – everybody knows that. But you’ve got to enjoy your work, if you don’t enjoy it then there’s a problem. I enjoy the job. I enjoy the pressure of it. I never get myself too high or too low, I try to keep on a level.”
Luna has been ruled for “a few weeks” with a hamstring problem, a setback aggravated by fellow left-back Bennett missing because of a back injury.
“Gabby is a doubt,” admitted Lambert.
“His ankle has not recovered from when he first injured it.”
After facing Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs in their opening run, Lambert is heartened that his team’s confidence is intact.
“Last year, confidence was effected when we were getting beat by Chelsea and Tottenham pretty heavily.
“If you look at it now, we’ve aways been competitive and right in the game.
“We’re going into a run of games away from that top six area. You’re disappointed to lose any game. I think you have to respect who you’re playing against and what you’re going to come up against.
"But we’re certainly playing well enough to go and get points, that’s for sure.
“We’re an exciting team because of the way we play. I don’t think there’s ever been a dull moment since I’ve been here.”