Aston Villa return to competitive action for the first time this season later tonight as they head to League One outfit Burton Albion in the EFL Cup second round.
Dean Smith’s side are yet to feature since the Premier League’s return this weekend, so it will be an interesting selection conundrum for the Villans boss to overcome.
In six days time, they’ll face Sheffield United to kickstart the 2020/21 campaign where they’ll be hoping to avoid another relegation dogfight.
So with that in mind, here’s how Villa could lineup this evening…
Smith could use this opportunity to bring up the match fitness of several players – both key members of the starting XI as well as those on the fringe.
Between the sticks, it looks like it’s Jed Steer’s spot until Emi Martinez signs on the dotted line. Tom Heaton isn’t expected back soon either whilst Orjan Nyland isn’t preferred.
In defence, it could be the back-up four, meaning Neil Taylor and Frederic Guilbert are at full-back with Kourtney Hause and Bjorn Engels through the middle.
The likes of Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings and new signing Matty Cash shouldn’t feature.
Marvelous Nakamba is likely to get the nod over Douglas Luiz with the Brazilian expected to start next Monday whilst a runout could be given to John McGinn – at the very most an hour on the pitch to get back up to speed with things.
He could partner young talent Jacob Ramsey in the centre. The 19-year-old wasn’t involved for the U23s yesterday, so he’s certainly going to be featuring in some form tonight.
Out wide, starting places are given to likely backups Anwar El Ghazi and Jota whilst perhaps surprisingly, Smith hands a debut to Ollie Watkins to lead the line.
He’s in need of vital game time ahead of the new campaign, so just like McGinn, an hour could do him the world of good.
It, of course, means there is no place for skipper Jack Grealish. The £36m-rated playmaker will be the first name on the teamsheet against the Blades.
AND in other news, Lange could be making one huge mistake with £14m swoop for “dangerous” man…