Selection Dilemma For Steve Bruce Against Millwall

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Josh Onomah of Aston Villa looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrews (stadium) on October 29, 2017 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Josh Onomah of Aston Villa looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrews (stadium) on October 29, 2017 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images) /
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Steve Bruce faces a selection dilemma in the lead up to Saturday’s clash with Millwall at Villa Park.  Henri Lansbury’s starring role in the draw at Leeds has given Bruce a team selection issue.  Josh Onomah’s form has been inconsistent recently and was ineffective as Leeds dominated the first half at Elland Road.  Lansbury’s introduction and goal changed the face of the match and may have done enough for the start this weekend.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: Villa player Henri Lansbury is sent off during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on September 12, 2017 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: Villa player Henri Lansbury is sent off during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on September 12, 2017 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) /

Lansbury has played five games in the Championship this season and has a tally of one goal and two assists.  He had not featured since his red card against Middlesborough until  Friday night’s impactful performance.  Having sat on the bench for the three previous games, Lansbury took full advantage of his 25 minutes.  Bruce’s dilemma is to decide whether Lansbury will fill the number ten role better than Josh Onomah.  Keinan Davis was isolated up front against Leeds and will need a man to link up the play against a tough tackling Millwall side.

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Josh Onomah has played 18 Championship games for Aston Villa this season.  He has tallied three goals and an assist and has mainly played in an attacking midfield role.  His performance against Leeds was poor but he is such precocious talent. If selected against Millwall, he could easily put in a man of the match performance.  The manager has to decide whether experience and form, albeit over a very short time, wins over promise and exuberance.

Another option for Steve Bruce could be to use Jack Grealish in the hole.  It’s unlikely that this type of gamble would be taken as Grealish’s four appearances this season have been as a substitute.  In fact, he has only played a total of 57 minutes in the Championship so match fitness isn’t 100%.  It’s more likely that Grealish will be an impact substitute to cause Millwall problems at the back in the second half.

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 14: Lee Gregory of Millwall and Josh Clarke of Brentford battle for possession during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Millwall at Griffin Park on October 14, 2017 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images)
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 14: Lee Gregory of Millwall and Josh Clarke of Brentford battle for possession during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Millwall at Griffin Park on October 14, 2017 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images) /

Millwall’s combative style will need to be countered.  Leaving Keinan Davis isolated will only invite pressure onto the Aston Villa defence.  Another lacklustre performance from Onomah could lead to problems scoring goals and inviting pressure at the back.  Lansbury is being tipped to start by the Birmingham Mail.  It is feasible that Bruce may well take the opportunity to start Lansbury whilst leaving Onomah on the bench.  Squad rotation will be key to negotiating the busy period so expect to see at least one change per game over the next few weeks until the injury list recedes and the busy fixture list slows.