COMMENT By Danny Wright
Steve Bruce must axe Jordan Amavi from his plans if he is to field his best possible Aston Villa team against Birmingham on Sunday.
The 23-year-old has come under fire from Villa supporters in recent weeks for a series of less than impressive displays in the claret and blue.
His performance in the 3-1 defeat to Fulham on Monday means he should be one of five changes that Bruce must make if he wants to leave a huge dent in Birmingham’s survival hopes.
Neil Taylor will face a fitness test ahead of the second-city derby and even if he is not up to scratch, he should still return to the starting XI on Sunday.
Alan Hutton, Conor Hourihane, Henri Lansbury and Albert Adomah should also return to Bruce’s plans after what was a horrific outing at Craven Cottage.
Gary Gardner, James Bree and Tommy Elphick must be be dropped to the bench for their shambolic displays while the club’s top goal scorer Jonathan Kodjia will serve a one-match suspension against Harry Redknapp’s side.
Sam Johstone must start in goal as he is clearly the best goalkeeper at Villa Park.
He should line up behind a back four consisting of Taylor, James Chester, Nathan Baker and Hutton.
Hourihane and Lansbury are Villa’s two most creative players and must be backed up by defensive midfielder Mile Jedinack in the centre of midfield.
Jack Grealish found the net against Fulham and it makes no sense to drop him, so he should be played on the left wing with Adomah manning the opposite flank.
Scott Hogan should be utilised as a lone-striker in Kodjia’s absence.
A win against Birmingham could see Villa move up to tenth in the table, although they would require a huge swing in goal difference to do so.
Without a lot else to play for other than a top-half finish, Bruce’s men will be motivated by the thought that they could put their bitter rivals in the Championship relegation zone if results elsewhere go in their favour.
In other Aston Villa news, Bruce has made this selection admission ahead of Sunday’s game.