Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has tipped Joe Cole to prove he can still cut it in the Barclays Premier League.

The Scot reckons Cole can be Villa's wildcard as they try to avoid a fourth straight battle against relegation.

Former Chelsea and West Ham midfielder Cole is in the squad to face Newcastle at Villa Park on Saturday.

He missed last Saturday's 1-0 opening day win over Stoke as he recovered from a thigh injury but could face the Magpies

And Lambert believes the 32-year-old will prove his critics wrong after he turned down offers from the MLS in America to join Villa.

He said: "I think that's testament to him. If you go to America or places like that to play football, you go there when you're 35 or 36 to wind down because it's not at that same level.

"He's shown he wants to play and compete at the highest level and I think that's great.

"Joe has won everything in the game really. He's a top professional and a top guy but can play a pass as well, that's for sure. He's really intelligent.

"If you can keep him fit then you've got a top player on your hands. I've seen him in training so I know what he's capable of and we have to try and get the best out of him.

"It's a bonus that he's back in the squad. I know what Joe can give us, he's been and done it and he'll be a big asset to us.

"We'll decide between now and Saturday what we're going to do."

Cole played in Villa's development squad's 1-1 draw with Stoke on Monday along with defender Jores Okore, who is recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury he suffered last September.

New signing Carlos Sanchez, who joined for £4.5m from Elche last week, could also make his debut against Newcastle.

Lambert added: "He's looked really good. He's not trained that much after the World Cup but the bits I've seen of him and the way he's looking are very good so we'll decide on him as well."