By Amir Mir
Micah Richards is in line for an Aston Villa recall for Saturday’s clash against Rotherham on Saturday.
The former England international was overlooked for the Midlands sides’ 1-0 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday in their opening Championship fixture, which was followed up by a defeat at fourth-tier side Luton Town on Wednesday night.
But an injury to Nathan Baker has opened the door for Richards to start alongside new skipper Tommy Elphick at the heart of the club’s defence.
Villa have not won a competitive game since February as Di Matteo comes to terms with the huge task facing him.
The game will be a strong indication as to who is in the Italian’s plans after he called for fresh faces to the squad after the defeat against Luton.
Centre-back Baker is the only injury concern as Di Matteo confirmed in his press conference he has no other injury worries.
Left-back Jordan Amavi returned from a long injury lay-off against Luton, so Aly Cissokho is expected to return in defence as Amavi slowly returns to full fitness.
Di Matteo played Jordan Ayew, Ross McCormack and Rudy Gestede in the defeat against the Owls last Sunday.
The Italian may be forced to bulk up the midfield with Gestede making way, as the likes of Gary Gardner and Ashley Westwood produced lacklustre performances from the middle of the park.
It means Aaron Tshibola, 21 could start his first league game for the club, as the much-criticised Leandro Bacuna is expected to make another appearance for Di Matteo’s side.
Despite his mistake which led to the goal against Wednesday last Sunday, Pierluigi Gollini is expected to return between the sticks, but Mark Bunn will be pushing for a start after impressing on Wednesday night.
Villa and Rotherham have only met on 13 occasions during their history, with the most recent encounter in the 2013 League Cup which the hosts won 3-0.
The visitors picked up a point in their opening Championship fixture at Wolves, as Di Matteo is hoping for a positive start to his managerial debut at Villa Park.