Football - Villa youth policy is paying off - Pulis

Stoke boss Tony Pulis feels his Aston Villa counterpart Paul Lambert is starting to reap the rewards of putting his faith in youth.

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The teams Lambert has fielded since taking over as Villa manager in the summer have not tended to have a great deal of Barclays Premier League experience within them and have featured plenty of players in their early twenties.

Their campaign has been something of a struggle so far results-wise but there have been encouraging signs of late, and Villa - currently 15th, two points above the relegation zone - head into Saturday's home league clash with Stoke having taken five points from their last three games.

Certainly Pulis has seen enough from Lambert's men recently to suggest that the Scot's selection decisions are beginning to really pay off.

"I think Paul has decided to go a certain way - he has brought the youngsters in," Pulis said. "We have watched the last few games and they have done exceptionally well.

"With youngsters you have to be patient. He has shown a lot of faith in them and I think they have started to reward him with some very good performances.

"I have a lot of respect for Paul - I think he has done smashing wherever he has been, and Villa is a great football club. We know it is going to be a very tough game."

A notable absentee from Villa's squad over the last few weeks has been England international Darren Bent. The striker's omission - he is not injured - has been a major talking point, but it is not something Pulis is keen to give his opinion on.

Asked about Bent's situation, Pulis said: "He is not my player. Whatever Paul does and whatever Darren does at Aston Villa is their responsibility.

"You have to ask Paul about that. If you ask me about someone else's players, that is none of my business."

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