- Premier League
Aston Villa suspend Lambert's assistants
Aston Villa assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa have been suspended by the club with immediate effect, pending an internal investigation.
Manager Paul Lambert has temporarily promoted Shay Given to the Aston Villa coaching staff and asked both the veteran goalkeeper and first team coach Gordon Cowans to assist him.
"I'm delighted to have Gordon and Shay to assist me in preparing the team for Saturday which is what the whole group is focused on," Lambert said in a statement released by the club.
Gordon Cowans added: "The manager has asked me to step up to assist him at this time and I'll do my utmost for the club and the manager in helping the team for Saturday's game against Southampton."
The shock announcement comes one day after Villa CEO Paul Faulkner called for unity to ensure a strong finish to the season to stave off the threat of relegation.
Since beating Chelsea 1-0 in March, Aston Villa have lost four consecutive games and currently lie four points clear of the relegation zone with fie games remaining.
"We are hurting," Faulkner wrote. "Fans are hurting, players and the manager are hurting. The frustration is shared by everyone who loves Aston Villa.
"Now more than ever it's time for us all to pull together - fans, players, the manager, everyone at the club."
Aston Villa have offered no explanation for Culverhouse and Karsa's suspensions. Both men have worked with Lambert since his time at Wycombe 2006 and followed the Scot from Norwich City to Villa in June 2012.
The club face Southampton at home on Saturday, with games against Swansea and Hull before trips to title-chasing Manchester City and Europa League hopefuls Tottenham in the last week of the season.
Shay Given said: "As players, it's important that each and every one of us take responsibility right now and I'm delighted to play my part in helping the manager and the team go and try to win on Saturday."