After suffering a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Fulham at the Craven Cottage, Aston Villa are due to host Preston North End at the Villa Park on Tuesday. The Villans are facing tough competition from Cardiff City for the second spot in the Championship table (which gives an automatic qualification to the Premier League) and they need to be sharp every time they are on the pitch.
Here is how we expect Steve Bruce to roll out his starting XI against Alex Neil’s entourage.
Jack Grealish is unlikely to return this midweek after missing out against Fulham owing to a calf injury. Albert Adomah is currently nursing a hamstring injury and is unlikely to feature. Jonathan Kodjia and Jed Steer are the long-term absentees, due to their ankle and shoulder injury, respectively, although Ahmed Elmohamady could start after having been withdrawn at the halfway mark against the Cottagers.
Sam Johnstone is expected to be handed the gloves once again despite having conceded two goals against Fulham, which were scored by Ryan Sessegnon and Floyd Ayite. The 24-year-old custodian has been an instrumental figure for the Lions, having notched up 14 clean sheets this season already, and he would be looking to put on a stellar show against Preston North End.
James Chester and John Terry should be making yet another start together at the heart of Bruce’s defensive line. These two central defenders have been rock-solid and resilient at the back, more often than not, and it is highly unlikely that Bruce would be desirous to trifle with the chemistry they have churned together. From the right-back slot, we anticipate seeing Elmohamady showcase his industry whereas Alan Hutton is expected to start from the left-back.
Mile Jedinak’s form of late has been exemplary and he is set to start once again from the deep-lying central midfield position. Ahead of him, we could see Birkir Bjarnason and Conor Hourihane partnered to push the side forward in their attacking endeavours. With Adomah likely to be sidelined, Andre Green might be given the nod to start on the left side of the midfield with Robert Snodgrass being chalked on the right.
Scott Hogan would be craving to find the back of the net against Neil’s side as he is likely to be handed yet another start up front. Hogan has scored 5 goals in 25 Championship appearances this season and it goes without saying that he needs to up his tally in the coming months to secure his side’s promotion.