Five changes in Bruce 4-2-3-1: Aston Villa best possible XI to face Tottenham
COMMENT By Will Butcher
Steve Bruce should hand five of his first-team stars a rest as he prioritises Aston Villa’s route back into the Premier League over an FA Cup run.
The former Hull manager has been boosted by the signing of Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who should be thrown in at the deep end against Tottenham.
But the promotion expert’s attacking department has been severely depleted as Jordan Ayew and Jonathan Kodjia have left to take part in the African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Johnstone joins Mile Jedinak, Tommy Elphick, Aaron Tshibola and Gabby Agbonlahor in coming into the Midlands giants’ best possible starting lineup.
That sees Mark Bunn drop to the bench, while James Chester, Gary Gardner, Ashley Westwood, and Leandro Bacuna should all be rested ahead of Villa’s league clash against Wolves on January 14.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
Pierluigi Gollini’s future is now in doubt following the signing of Johnstone, after he was replaced by Mark Bunn. Johnstone joins Elphick in coming in to the side, who will be partnered at the heart of Villa’s defence by Nathan Baker.
Former Spurs ace Alan Hutton is set to revisit White Hart Lane, while Jordan Amavi must use his pace to cope with Spurs’ free-scoring attack.
Tshibola was given just his second appearance under Bruce during the 1-0 loss to Cardiff on Monday, and should now feature alongside Jedinak who should return from illness.
Albert Adomah’s pace on the right is enough to worry any defence, as he looks set to go up against Wales defender Ben Davies as Danny Rose is likely to be rested by Mauricio Pochettino.
Without Ayew and Kodjia, Ross McCormack should finally be given a chance to star in his preferred number 10 role with Jack Grealish moving out to the left flank.
Despite being ostracised earlier in the season, Agbonlahor must be tasked with leading the line in Kodjia’s absence as Bruce continues in vain to add a striker to his squad this month.
In other Aston Villa news, David de Gea has sent this Twitter message to Johnstone.