Aston Villa expected 4-2-3-1 v Preston: 18-year-old given first league start
COMMENT By Matt Farr
Steve Bruce is expected to make three changes from the side that was beaten 1-0 by Wolves a week ago.
Aston Villa are set to go up against in-form Preston on Saturday, and are expected to welcome Jack Grealish, and Ashley Westwood back into the starting line-up, as well as handing 18-year-old Andre Green his first league start.
That means Albert Adomah, Leandro Bacuna and Aaron Tshibola will drop out from their respective midfield roles.
18-year-old winger Andre Green has been impressive as a substitute in recent weeks, and Bruce is likely to hand him his first Championship start for the club. He has three goals and three assists from 10 appearances for the reserve side this season.
Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is expected to retain the No.1 jersey following his arrival from Manchester United on loan earlier in the month. He made his debut in the defeat to Wolves.
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Tommy Elphick, meanwhile, is also expected to keep his place, as Nathan Baker continues to recover from a hamstring injury. The defender picked up the injury in the pre-match warm-up against Wolves, forcing Elphick to come into the side.
Jordan Amavi, Alan Hutton and James Chester are all set to keep their places.
26-year-old midfielder Ashley Westwood has been a regular figure in the Aston Villa first-team this season, making 22 league appearances. However, he was dropped to the bench against Wolves, allowing Aaron Tshibola to make his first start since October.
But Bruce could turn back to his senior man after an unconvincing team performance against Wolves.
Jack Grealish is also set to return as the centre-piece in an attacking-midfield trio, replacing Leandro Bacuna. Preston have conceded just once in their last three Championship games, and Grealish would no doubt provide a stern test to their back-line.
Ross McCormack is likely to continue as Aston Villa’s lone striker, with Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew still absent at the Africa Cup of Nations. Gabby Agbonlahor is Bruce’s other striker option, but is set to take up a role on the right-hand side.
Aston Villa are making excellent progress in their pursuit of Nottingham Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury, and Telegraph reporter John Percy revealed on Twitter that the transfer could be completed on Friday.
However, even if a deal is completed before Saturday’s kick-off, he is unlikely to go straight into the starting line-up.
In other Aston Villa news, Stewart Downing has delivered an update on his future amid interest from Aston Villa.