Lambert backs Gabby for England

Gabriel Agbonlahor has been back to his best this season. Photo: PA

Paul Lambert believes the best is still to come from Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and claims he is capable of earning an England recall.

Agbonlahor has put a pre-season knee ligament injury behind him and is looking to build on netting in Villa's last two games, against Swindon and Sunderland.

Now Villa's academy product has Manchester United in his sights in this evening's home Barclays Premier League clash, having scored the winner at Old Trafford three years ago.

Under Lambert's guidance, Agbonlahor has shown his best form since he thrived in the Martin O'Neill era more than two years ago.

Lambert said of the 26-year-old: "I think the way Gabby is playing at this minute, he's an absolute handful because his speed is incredible.

"When he gets going it takes a really quick player to get a grasp of him. He has every attribute you want with his speed and his strength.

"I wouldn't like to race him, that's for sure. His actual game in general when he gets at people is a real handful. I'm delighted with the way he's performed.

"He's in top form at the minute and has the ability to scare people with his pace.

"Can he earn an England recall? Yes, because he's still only a young lad. Every young lad has got that ambition to want to play for their national team.

"I'm pretty sure Gabby would be the same. You can also not hit your peak until your late 20s so his best years could still be to come."

Agbonlahor has been hit by various injury niggles during the past two seasons.

But Lambert said: "I didn't sense he was lacking in confidence. He was playing exceptionally well in pre-season in America until he hurt his knee.

"I think when a new manager comes in everybody thinks it's a fresh start."

Lambert watched his former club Celtic's shock Champions League win over Barcelona and is hoping Villa can spring a surprise victory against the Red Devils.

He said: "I can't compare Celtic and Barcelona to Aston Villa and Manchester United. They are different teams and games.

"But on any given night, you can give anyone a game, that's always the case. You have chances and just have to take them. Hopefully you defend really strongly to see it through.

"You need a bit of luck and even then, it still might not be good enough. You have a chance and, as long as you have a chance, you go for it."

Lambert follows the popular belief that summer signing Robin van Persie can have a major influence on United's bid to regain the league title from local rivals City.

He said: "You're up against world-class players. Wayne Rooney is a fantastic player and Van Persie has given United a little bit more. They've got Hernandez on the bench too, so they're not too bad!

"I think Van Persie is a major signing for them. I think they'll be really close to winning the title.

"Manchester City and Chelsea will be there as well but I just think he's a top, top player."