Premier League

Lambert: Sylla full of surprises

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Tue, 30 Apr 2013 17:00:00

Ipswich captain Carlos Edwards has thanked manager Mick McCarthy for his input in breathing new life into his career.

The Trinidad and Tobago international had gone almost two years without a goal before McCarthy took charge at Portman Road, but has since fired the Blues to wins against Bolton and Derby before finding the scoresheet for the third time in eight games in the 3-1 victory against Birmingham on Saturday.

That result ensured McCarthy's men would be a Championship side again next season and Edwards has thanked the former Republic of Ireland boss for the turnaround in the club's fortunes.

He told the East Anglian Daily Times: "Words cannot explain how beneficial he has been for me.

"I had the honour of playing for him at Wolves during a short loan spell and he knew what I was capable of when he came here.

"Maybe I was a bit off the boil when he arrived and I have got to thank the manager for keeping faith in me. Along with Terry Connor, he has been on my case to try and be more positive.

"When they have belief in you, it gives you a bigger incentive."

Manager John Sheridan, who has agreed in principle to remain in charge of the Pilgrims, has also offered deals to Guy Branston, Jake Cole, Paul Wotton and Isaac Vassell.

Tyler Harvey will become a first-year professional but Anthony Charles, Ollie Chenoweth, Jamie Lowry and Jared Sims will be released.

Northern Ireland international Warren Feeney, who has not featured under the former Chesterfield boss due to an ankle injury, is not being retained but will be given the chance to impress Sheridan in pre-season.

Striker Nick Chadwick and goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin have been transfer-listed as Sheridan begins to plan for next season.

Lambert took a gamble on Sylla when he shelled out ?2million to pluck the 22-year-old out of the French Second Division, where he had been impressing for Clermont Foot, and chuck him into the intense heat of a Premier League relegation scrap.

But from the moment Sylla made his debut at Everton in February, he has given every indication of being up to the task demanded of him.

It was the same again on Monday night.

Handed his first start in four games, Sylla did not grab the headlines against Sunderland as Christian Benteke's hat-trick swept the Wearsiders aside.

Yet Lambert noted the energy and drive Sylla brought to Villa's midfield, which ensured their opponents never got a chance to settle and ultimately rocked them so badly Sunderland subsided to a miserable 6-1 defeat which keeps them in relegation bother.

Remarkably, of the eight matches Sylla has been involved in, Villa have won five, drawn two and lost just the one - against Liverpool.

It is a run that threatens to take Lambert's side clear of the drop zone before that potentially do-or-die encounter with Wigan on May 19.

And for that Lambert feels Sylla deserves a lot of credit.

"We needed to try and do something in January," recalled the Scot. "We needed a bit of steel in midfield and managed to get Yacouba.

"He was unknown. But when you bring someone to the club you want them to make an impact and try to do something to help the team.

"Yac has been excellent."

Sylla has managed to make a positive contribution despite not being able to speak the same language as so many of his team-mates, which clearly makes communication difficult.

"He has tried to get a grip of the language, which is important," said Lambert.

"But every time I have asked him to perform he has done it.

"And the thing is, he only a kid. He is still learning, which bodes so well for the future."

The immediate future is a trip to Norwich on Saturday for a game that could shape Villa's season.

Beat another relegation contender and Villa will have clambered to the brink of safety. Lose and they throw the door back open to Wigan to once again manoeuvre themselves into a position where they can make Villa sweat.

To that end, Lambert will hope Ciaran Clark and Karim El Ahmadi recover from the foot and groin injuries that kept them out on Monday night.

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