COMMENT by Amir Mir

Aston Villa have started the season in disappointing fashion, with a points haul of 10 points from 10 games leaving them 17th in the Championship table.

The Midlands club have dropped a possible eight points from winning positions this term, which has seen manager Roberto Di Matteo come under increasing pressure ahead of Saturday’s clash against Preston.

Here, Football Insider analyses the three key Villa men against the north-west outfit.

Jack Grealish

The club’s academy product has been one of the best players for his side this term, scoring two goals and providing one assist in eight games.

The 21-year-old midfielder needs to provide the creativity and be ruthless in putting away good opportunities during important periods of the game.

Grealish was an instrumental figure when Villa last won a league game and he needs to provide that same performance to help his team to a much needed victory against Preston.

Ross McCormack

The club’s £12 million summer signing McCormack scored 21 goals in the league for Fulham last season and has bagged two in seven games this term.

Villa have constantly failed to kill off games during this campaign. Therefore, McCormack needs to step up and be more clinical in front of goal and provide that killer instinct Di Matteo’s side desperately require.

There is no doubt the Scottish international is a 20-goal Championship striker, but come the visit to Deepdale at the weekend, McCormack must deliver.

Mile Jedinak

The Midfield enforcer has the leadership ability and quality to help Villa secure a much needed victory and clean sheet at the weekend.

Di Matteo’s side have conceded goals after the 85th minute on five out of ten occasions this term, so experienced players such as Jedinak need to stand up and provide that mental toughness during difficult periods of the game.

The 32-year-old has played five Championship games this season, but as an experienced campaigner he must provide a calming influence during the latter stages of the game.

In other Aston Villa team news, Stan Collymore would happily drive this manager to replace Di Matteo.