Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood: There is no Norwich rivalry

The teams have become new age foes but Villa's Ashley Westwood has dismissed Norwich as serious rivals.

Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood: There is no Norwich rivalry

The claret and blues host the Canaries on Sunday as the game's significance grows with both teams in danger of the drop – on top of their bitter recent history.

Paul Lambert's switch in 2012, the threats and counter threats to sue and Villa's failed chase for Wes Hoolahan in January have stoked up a previously dormant rivalry.

Since Lambert's move, the clubs have been closely linked, circling each other like predators over a carcass when they have clashed.

Lambert has the upper hand with three wins and a draw in their four meetings since his defection and continuing that run is paramount on Sunday.

The teams are locked on 28 points, Villa a place ahead in 13th, with both teams embroiled in a 10-team relegation scrap.

Just four points separate them from the bottom three and, despite the sub-plots, Westwood insisted Villa must keep their focus on the ultimate goal of survival.

He said: "It's nothing to do with us really, it's just Norwich at the end of the day. Unless it's Birmingham or West Brom, where it's a big game for the fans, there's no rivalry.

"They're Norwich, they're a million miles away from us in the country so it's just another game for us. Every game is massive between now and the end of the season and the same for the teams around us. They're all big games, but for us, hopefully we can just play our game and not worry about the other things."

Victory would give Villa the platform to pull away from danger and also improve a wretched home record of just three league wins this season.

But Westwood denied the squad are suffering from stage fright at Villa Park, despite 10 home defeats this season.

"People have said we struggle at home but, for me, it's a great place to play when the fans are on their day and getting behind us, there's no team stopping us," said the 23-year-old.

"We need them. It's a combined effort, if we put in the performances then the fans will cheer us on. I could be playing in League Two, so I relish playing at Villa Park.

"When we look back to the Manchester City game when we beat them at home (3-2) the fans were fantastic and we need more of that. We need everyone to come together.

"As long as we give 100 per cent then there's no reason to get on people's back."

Westwood limped off in Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Newcastle with a dead leg but is expected to recover. Villa missed his composure after he was replaced by Yacouba Sylla in the second half and Westwood knows the responsibility he shoulders.

He said: "Obviously it's my job to get on the ball, Newcastle gave us a lot of space in the first half and that allowed me to do that and get Gabby (Agbonlahor) in the little hole. As a team we need to set the tempo. When we go at teams we're miles better."

Nicklas Helenius could return after missing the Newcastle defeat with flu while Matt Lowton is trying to earn a recall after being left out of the 18 in the last two games.

Norwich are likely to be unchanged after their 1-0 win over Tottenham ease their relegation fears but are without centre-backs Michael Turner and Ryan Bennett.

Watch Nick Mashiter's Norwich City preview below:

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