Paul Lambert one of the favourites to take over at Aston Villa

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert is high on the bookmakers' lists to fill the vacancy at Aston Villa.

The Birmingham club this afternoon confirmed the sacking of Alex McLeish and Lambert leads the early list of contenders to step into the Villa Park hotseat.

Lambert's Canaries side swept aside Villa on the last day of the Premier League season with both sets of supporters chanting his name.

Lambert and current Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez - who Villa approached last season before appointing McLeish - are the two leading contenders, according to the betting, with Martinez dipping to odds as short as 8/13 this afternoon.

Other names in the frame include Rafa Benitez, Alan Curbishley, Roberto di Matteo, Gus Poyet and Neil Lennon.

It has been a torrid season for Aston Villa, whose owner Randy Lerner appointed McLeish from bitter city rivals Birmingham City and then watched as the club recorded just four home victories all season with angry fans turning against McLeish.

An Aston Villa club statement read: 'Aston Villa can confirm that Alex McLeish's contract has been terminated with immediate effect. The club has been disappointed with this season's results, performances and the general message these have sent to our fans.

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'The board wishes to assure supporters that we are conscious in every sense that Villa expects and deserves more and we will strive to deliver this.'

Villa chairman Randy Lerner said: 'We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years.

'Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent.

'The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations.'