Matthew Lowton faces a late fitness test before Paul Lambert can name his Aston Villa side to face Chelsea on Saturday.

The Villa chief has been able to call on the right-back all season but a thigh strain which he suffered during last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Norwich has left him in a race against time to be fit for Chelsea’s Villa Park visit at Saturday lunch-time.

Defender Ciaran Clark and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi are still out with respective foot and thigh problems, while Richard Dunne, Marc Albrighton, Gary Gardner and Chris Herd are long-term absentees.

Meanwhile Lambert has warned Chelsea to expect a much tougher game than the December contest at Stamford Bridge in which the Londoners thrashed his side 8-0.

Villa have won five of their last eight games to move within touching distance of Premier League safety while Chelsea are scrapping to secure a top-four finish and Champions League qualification.

“We know we’re in for a really hard game against Chelsea,” said Lambert on the club’s website. “They’re going for a Champions League place and have got the Europa League Final during the week as well.

“Everybody knows they are a top side who won the Champions League last year.

“But we’re a different team now to what we were then. You can get caught up in certain things, and the defeat hurt us like it did for everyone else.

“But great credit to the team, they never let their heads go down, never wilted, they kept on going and now the fruition is there for everyone to see – we’re playing really well.”