By Amir Mir
Roberto Di Matteo could start the Championship season with a new Aston Villa centre-back pairing, according to a report.
The Birmingham Mail claim new signing Tommy Elphick, who joined from Bournemouth for £3million, will most likely be partnered by academy graduate Nathan Baker.
Baker, was on loan at Bristol City last season as he helped the club cement their Championship status, is said to have impressed Di Matteo in pre-season.
The duo have a wealth of experience in the second tier with Baker making 39 appearances for Bristol City last term and Elphick gaining promotion with Bournemouth two seasons ago.
Baker has started three pre-season games against non-League outfit Telford, League One side Bristol Rovers and French outfit Nantes with this being an indicator that Elphick will start the season alongside the 25-year-old.
Last season’s flops Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Ciaran Clark and Jores Okore are all providing competition for the duo as Di Matteo plans for instant promotion back to the top flight although it is by no means certain they will still be at Villa Park by the end of the transfer window.
Villa suffered their worst season in their 142-year history when they managed only three wins in the entire Premier League campaign last season, which included conceding 76 goals as three different managers sat in the dug out in what was a disastrous season.
In other Aston Villa team news, this is the reason why the clubs longest serving player has been missing from pre-season.