Former Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes his former club will find it tough to get promoted this season.

Lambert experienced an up-and-down time of things in the Villa hot-seat between 2012 and 2015, eventually being relieved of his duties.

Now in charge of the Championship’s bottom-placed team, Ipswich Town, Lambert is preparing for a return to Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, the 49-year-old cast doubt over Dean Smith’s chances of taking his side into the Premier League, given the difficulty involved:

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They have obviously spent a lot of money in the last couple of years to try to do it, there is nothing guaranteed in football.

It doesn’t matter if you spend money or not. You can’t guarantee success.

It’s still a big club, if he makes a run at it – again that’s easier said that done – that can happen.

Villa find themselves 13th in the Championship and seven points off the play-off place with 18 matches remaining this season.

Having looked like strong top-six contenders at one point, their form has dipped, with no wins in five games, in all competitions.

A quick change in fortunes is required this weekend, in what is a must-win game for the hosts  against Lambert’s Ipswich side.