By Amir Mir
Jordan Amavi likely to make his first league start in nine months when Aston Villa travel to Midlands rivals Derby County on Saturday evening.
The left-back is set to come into the manager’s thinking as the club aim to end the week in positive fashion after a victory against Rotherham on Saturday and a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield on Tuesday.
Fan favourite Amavi has only made one appearance under Di Matteo this season, with the left-back playing 90 minutes in his side’s 3-1 defeat to Luton Town in the EFL Cup.
Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini is expected to keep his place in the side, despite his second howler in as many games against the Terriers in midweek.
Captain Tommy Elphick will keep his place at the heart of the club’s defence, with Nathan Baker and James Chester vying for a first-team spot.
Di Matteo may also look to freshen up his midfield with academy graduate Gary Gardner likely to start, alongside either Ashley Westwood or Aaron Tshibola.
The club’s latest signing Mile Jedinak will not feature at the weekend as he waits for the green light from the FA, after the combative midfielder signed a three-year deal with the Championship club.
The attacking trio of Jordan Ayew, Rudy Gestede and Ross McCormack will look to build on their partnership up top as Di Matteo seeks his second win of the season.
McCormack scored his first goal for the club against Huddersfield, with Gestede finding the net on two occasions against Rotherham, but Ayew is yet to get off the mark in his first three games.
Derby have had a mixed start to the season, drawing their first game of the season 0-0 with Brighton before losing to Barnsley and beating Preston.
These two sides last met in the Premier League in Derby’s infamous 11-point season, and Villa beat their rivals 6-0 at Pride Park, with former Villa man Stiliyan Petrov scoring a goal from the halfway line.
In other Aston Villa team news, Ross McCormack delivers his verdict on teammate after costly mistake against Huddersfield.