Aston Villa expected 4-2-3-1 v Nottingham Forest: Trio axed after midweek debacle
By Matt Farr
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce is expected to make three changes to his side for their upcoming Championship clash with Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Bruce is expected to recall Tommy Elphick and Jack Grealish to his starting XI, as well as hand a debut to January signing Neil Taylor.
Nathan Baker, Jordan Amavi and Andre Green are expected to miss out following the embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Brentford on Tuesday.
Eight players are likely to keep their places in the side – Sam Johnstone, James Chester, Alan Hutton, Henri Lansbury, Conor Hourihane, Albert Adomah, Birkir Bjarnason and Jonathan Kodjia.
Despite shipping three goals in Aston Villa’s last outing, Sam Johnstone is expected to retain his place in goal. The harrowing defeat to Brentford does demand changes from Bruce, but nothing as drastic as axing his goalkeeper.
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Changes will though, be made to Villa’s back-line, with Tommy Elphick likely to replace Baker as James Chester’s central-defensive partner.
Elphick has appeared just once in Villa’s last seven Championship games, but their miserable defensive record of late should see him return.
Amavi, meanwhile, has appeared in 22 of Aston Villa’s 28 league games this season, but could make way for new-signing Taylor.
The former Swansea man arrived as part of a swap deal that saw Jordan Ayew return to the Premier League, and will provide another experienced figure to their faltering back-line.
With Chester and Alan Hutton retaining their roles, Bruce should be able to rely on his new-look defence keeping Nottingham Forest at bay at the City Ground on Saturday.
Bruce is also expected to persist with newly-acquired trio Hourihane, Henri Lansbury and Birkir Bjarnason in the midfield.
Experienced international midfielder Mile Jedinak is still recovering from a groin injury, and will play no part.
Winger Albert Adomah has been in good form of late, and he is likely to be deployed on the right-wing for Aston Villa in the absence of the injured Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Jack Grealish, meanwhile, will take up position on the left-hand side at the expense of youngster Green, who drops to the bench.
Ivory Coast goalscorer Kodjia is expected to lead the line once again, meaning there will be no first start yet for Scott Hogan.
A win could send Aston Villa up to 12th in the Championship, but they would still be no fewer than seven points off the play-offs.
In other Aston Villa team news, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy has signed a new deal with the club.