Norwich City boss Lambert said to be top of Aston Villa’s wanted list

Aston Villa are said to be poised to make an official approach for Norwich City manager Paul Lambert.

Sky Sports and the BBC both reported that Villa would be seeking official permission to speak to Lambert today as they look to find a successor to the sacked Alex McLeish.

But reports elsewhere suggested the Canaries would not welcome such an approach and would fight hard to keep the Scot, who is operating on a rolling contract at Carrow Road.

There is certainly no guarantee that Lambert would regard Villa as a big enough attraction to persuade him to leave. They only avoided relegation from the Premier League by two points and had to significantly reduce their wage bill after debts of more than �50m for the year ending May 2011.

Lambert has consistently kept his own counsel on speculation linking him with the job. When pressed after last week's Adam Drury testimonial match at Carrow Road, he commented: 'I am delighted I am at Norwich if that is what you are asking. I have never said I wanted away. Not a thing have I said and people jump to conclusions.'

No-one from the club was available for comment last night, but City's chief executive David McNally made his position clear at the end of the season.

'We would not welcome any enquiry for our football manager or any of the club's football players,' he said. 'We'll do everything we can and fight this as hard as we've ever fought.'

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Villa owner Randy Lerner is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky in terms of replacing McLeish. He held talks with former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who opted to stay at Molde in Norway for family reasons and also spoke with advisors of Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who had initially rejected the chance to replace Gerard Houllier 12 months ago. But Latics boss Dave Whelan yesterday said Martinez was staying put.

The other serious contender for Villa is believed to be Roberto di Matteo, should he not get the Chelsea job on a permanent basis.

Villa will have the chance to make a move at Thursday's meeting of Premier League chairman in Darlington.