By Amir Mir

Former Aston Villa striker Andi Weimann is hoping his Derby County side can match their Midland rivals this season as they gear up for a mouth-watering contest on Saturday night.

The two Midland clubs meet at Pride Park in the Championship on Saturday, with Weimann having played for Villa for nine years.

The 25-year-old signed for the Rams in 2015 after being sold by Tim Sherwood, after making 134 appearances and scoring 21 goals since joining Villa as a 15-year-old.

But, Weimann was full of praise for his old club, stating that there are certain expectations on them this season following relegation last term.

“There’s no question that Villa are a massive football club coming down to the Championship so everyone is obviously expecting them to do well.” Weimann told Villa’s official website.

“We’re challenging ourselves to be up there with them. I think it will be a very tight game. I don’t think either side will run away with it. I think it will be an interesting one to watch.”

The Austrian was a firm fans favourite during his time at Villa Park, as supporters appreciated his energetic style up front.

Since his move to Derby in 2015, Weimann has struggled for form and game time scoring four goals in 30 appearances.

But, the former Rapid Vienna academy player revealed that he still talks to some of his old teammates at Villa.

“I still speak to a couple of their players,” said Weimann. “I live close to Alan Hutton and chat to Ashley Westwood – and the team has made a solid start.”

Weimann said he is disappointed to miss the fixture through injury at the weekend, but is hoping to be ready for the reverse fixture in February.

“I would’ve loved to have played in the game,” said Weimann.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to play in the match at Villa Park later on in the season. That’ll be even more special – to come back to Villa Park. There have been a lot of changes at my old club over the last year.”

The two sides have had a similar start to the season with a loss, draw and win to their name in their opening three fixtures.

Villa drew with Huddersfield on Tuesday at Villa Park, while Derby picked up their first win away at Preston on the same evening.

In other Aston Villa team news, Tony Xia welcomes new signing as he is pictured shaking hands with the new recruit.