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Premier League: Delph is Gerrard's natural heir for England - Aston Villa boss Lambert

Aston Villa's Fabian Delph has the qualities to replace Steven Gerrard at the heart of the England side, says Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert.

In July last year Gerrard announced his retirement from international football after becoming the third most-capped player in England history with 114 to his name.

Delph has impressed for club and country this season, claiming his first three England caps, including starting roles in the European Championship qualifying wins over Switzerland and Estonia.

Lambert said: "If he keeps progressing he is going to have a massive career. He is a guy who is growing in stature, and with the way he's playing, and now an England international, there's no fear with him.

"He knows now what it takes (to play at the highest level)."

After serving a three-match ban, Delph's return to the Villa side for Saturday's home clash with Gerrard's Liverpool is key for Lambert following a wretched run.

The battle between Delph and Gerrard in the centre of the pitch will be a vital one if Villa are to fire up front after scoring just one goal in their last six league games.

Lambert added: "The way Fabian plays the game, with his all-energetic style, is infectious, so him coming back is a massive boost, a major plus for us.

"There isn't any fear there. He has the confidence he can mix with that company (Gerrard)."

Whilst Lambert sees Delph filling the void vacated by Gerrard with England, the Scot feels someone doing something similar at Liverpool is virtually an impossibility.

With Gerrard to join LA Galaxy this summer, Lambert said: "Steven leaving Liverpool, how are you going to replace him?

"He's been an iconic player for them. It will be a massive hole for them, not just on the pitch, but off it. Maybe off it will be a bit harder than on it. He is one of the Premier League's midfield greats."

With Delph out of contract this summer, Lambert is determined to avoid having his own major chasm to fill should the 25-year-old opt to leave.

Lambert believes he can convince Delph to stay and said: "With Fabian it will not be about money. I've known him long enough to know the type of guy he is, and it will not be a money thing with him. He just wants to play football.

"It would be a major boost if we can get him to stay. It would send out a great message. Him turning around and staying would be a massive statement for everybody at this club - fans, players, staff."

Whilst Delph returns and new signing Carles Gil is poised to make his debut, Lambert is without defender Ciaran Clark who serves a one-game ban and midfielder Joe Cole with a hamstring injury.

Headlines for England this week

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  • Premier League: Delph is Gerrard's natural heir for England - Aston Villa boss Lambert

  • Aston Villa's Fabian Delph has the qualities to replace Steven Gerrard at the heart of the England side, says Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert.

  • England Under-21s: 'Don't take Ross Barkley to U21 Euro finals' says Everton boss Roberto Martinez

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