The injury bug hit once more. Steve Bruce has a dilemma as up to four players will be unavailable in addition to the long-term absentees.
Tuesday’s home brawl with Preston North End is critical. Well, all the matches remaining are critical, but this one especially so. Aston Villa host a 7th-place Preston side who are two points off the playoff zone.
Villa, currently third, are two points off of second – an automatic promotion spot. Unluckily, the club do not have a full squad from which to call upon.
Albert Adomah is OUT with a hamstring strain, as is his left wing replacement, André Green. Jack Grealish is also highly doubtful for a midweek clash. His calf strain isn’t serious, but a return at the weekend seems more likely. Ahmed Elmohamady will be assessed on Monday as he was forced off at halftime at Fulham with a knock. For the sake of this activity, I am assuming all four players are unavailable.
PROJECTED ASTON VILLA XI (4-1-4-1):
Goalkeeper: Sam Johnstone
Right Back: Axel Tuanzebe
Right Center Back: James Chester
Left Center Back: John Terry
Left Back: Alan Hutton
Defensive Midfield: Mile Jedinak
Right Midfield: Robert Snodgrass
Right Center Midfield: Josh Onomah
Left Center Midfield: Conor Hourihane
Left Midfield: Birkir Bjarnason
Center Forward: Scott Hogan
Guessing Bruce’s intentions is a crapshoot. If Elmohamady were fit, I could see him flirting with a 3-5-2 given the current personnel. Playing a two-striker formation probably fits Aston Villa better in the absence of Jack Grealish. Any two of: Hogan, Grabban and Davis can threaten an opposing backline.
The key for Tuesday, however, might be dropping Josh Onomah into deeper midfield position; thereby allowing him to dictate play. He has been out-of-form for a few months, but I believe in his ball carrying ability. Villa need a dribbler in the middle of the park. Elsewhere, Birkir Bjarnason is better served playing at left wing in the absence of both Albert Adomah and André Green.
Substitutes: Bunn, Taylor, Whelan, Lansbury, O’Hare, Grabban, Davis.