Ron Vlaar may be rushed back into action, says Paul Lambert
Boss Paul Lambert today admitted he may rush Ron Vlaar back to action to ease Villa's defensive crisis.
The manager is considering recalling Vlaar at Sunderland on New Year's Day after five winless games with Villa down to one fit centre-back.
Saturday's 1-1 draw with Swansea left the claret and blues four points above the Premier League relegation zone.
Vlaar is needed in defence with Ciaran Clark suspended and Chris Herd sidelined with a hamstring injury which is expected to keep him out for two weeks.
And Lambert insisted with Nathan Baker their only recognised centre-back he could be forced to use Vlaar, who has missed the last five games with a calf injury.
He said: "We're down to one centre half at the minute and just need to see how Ron is. We need to adjust.
"He's doing a lot better. It's needs must at certain times, you know? We'll have to wait and see. We can only see how he feels. Sometimes there is a needs must. Everybody gives it a right good go so we'll have to see how he is."
And Christian Benteke could also make a comeback with the striker due to return to training today.
Benteke – who has not scored in his last 10 games – has struggled to overcome a knee problem and has missed the last three matches.
Lambert added: "Hopefully he will be back. He'll be back training today hopefully."
Clark's suspension, after his fifth booking at the weekend, comes after Fabian Delph, Gabby Agbonlahor and Ashley Westwood also missed games due to a ban.
Now, all players on four yellow cards will only be given a warning to their future conduct, not a ban, if they receive a fifth caution as part of an amnesty in the New Year.
Villa have picked up the most yellow cards – 43 – in the Premier League this term but Lambert insisted he is not concerned.
"It's part of the game I can't curtail their enthusiasm. They are young and I tell you I'd rather have it than not," he said.
"We are not a dirty side but their enthusiasm sometimes will take them into things that happen."