Aston Villa suspend Lambert assistants Culverhouse & Karsa

Aston Villa have suspended assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa pending an internal investigation.

Gordon Cowans and Shay Given have been temporarily promoted to assist manager Paul Lambert, the club said.

Villa have not explained why Culverhouse and Karsa were disciplined.

The duo joined the club after Lambert was appointed in June 2012, having worked with the Scot at Colchester, Wycombe and Norwich.

"Paul Lambert's judgment has to be questioned now two close colleagues he has worked with at four clubs have been suspended. But I understand he wanted this.

"It may look as though Lambert is in deeper trouble after this, but I understand he has been fully supported by owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner.

"A run of 15 points from the last 19 games would be enough ammunition for many owners to sack their manager, but I hear Lerner remains fully behind Lambert."

Former Villa midfielder Cowans, 55, steps up from his role as development coach, while Given, 37, is the team's reserve goalkeeper and only returned from a loan spell with Middlesbrough at the end of February.

"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," said Lambert.

Given added: "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."

Defeats in their last four matches have seen Villa slip to 14th in the Premier League table, four points above the relegation zone, going into Saturday's home game against Southampton.

Following the 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace on Saturday, Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner issued a statement urging players, fans and everyone connected with the club to pull together.

Lambert plays down relegation fears

Assistant manager Culverhouse, 49, started his career at Tottenham but made his name as a right-back at Norwich in the 1980s and 90s before spells with Swindon and Brighton.

He joined Wycombe as coach in June 2005, one year before Lambert's arrival as manager.

He and Karsa, who was recruited by Wycombe as head of youth in September 2006, have since followed Lambert on every step of his managerial career.

Cowans played 168 consecutive matches for Villa between 1979 and 1983, helping the club win the league and European Cup.

Former Republic of Ireland keeper Given signed for Villa from Manchester City in 2011 but has fallen behind first choice Brad Guzan.