Promotion into the Premier League is firmly Aston Villa’s number one agenda in the season to come. Most Championship clubs have elected to rotate their starting eleven’s in the opening round of the Carabao Cup, and the question is will Aston Villa do the same?
Steve Bruce certainly has the squad available to him to do exactly that. On paper they should have too much for their Sky Bet League Two opponents but making vast changes and expecting everything to click is never easy. 11 changes is perhaps unlikely given the fact certain EFL ruling would play Aston Villa at risk of a fine.
Focusing on those who won’t definitely play is a great place to start. Jack Grealish, Mile Jedinak and Jonathan Kodjia will play no part because of injuries. Tommy Elphick, Gary Gardner and Ross McCormack are unlikely to feature too as the trio are expected to leave the club prior to the end of the transfer window.
A 4-2-3-1 is likely to remain in place, although Bruce does indeed have room to manoeuvre on that front as well.
The 24-year-old has been at Villa Park officially since joining in 2013 but has virtually spent the entirety of that time away on loan. Doncaster Rovers, Yeovil Town and two spells at Huddersfield Town have certainly kept the Norwich-born keeper busy enough. Mark Bunn is another alternative for this area, but most manager’s tend to rotate their goalkeeper in the cup competitions. Sam Johnstone should get the night off.
The former Barnsley man is hoping to be the long-term player in this position but hasn’t enjoyed too many opportunities since joining in January. This is a well-populated area of the squad but Bruce should give Bree should minutes in Essex tonight.
CHRIS SAMBA & JAMES CHESTER
John Terry is likely to be rested considering his age, with an eye on the return to league action this weekend. Samba made his competition debut for Villa off the bench at the weekend, as a striker! He’ll return to his more usual role today and should be partnered by ex-West Bromwich Albion man Chester. Micah Richards is another option but is clearly well down the pecking order, meaning that Chester should get the nod.
RITCHIE DE LAET
The former Leicester City man is actually an injury down because of a wrist problem sustained in pre-season. He suffered a more serious problem shortly after joining the club last season, heavily restricting his game time. With him nearing a return, Bruce is likely to have pointed towards this Carabao Cup tie as a possible return for him. Should he miss out, then Neil Taylor may retain his place, or maybe even Jordan Amavi, who continues to be linked with a move elsewhere.
Switch to the next page to check out the likely rest of the predicted starting eleven!