By Amir Mir

Ian Holloway is “on the fence” as he predicts Aston Villa to draw 1-1 with Newcastle on Saturday evening.

Sky Sports pundit Holloway believes the first goal will be “more important than usual” in the eagerly anticipated showdown between the Championship big boys.

Both clubs are aiming for instant promotion this season after the duo were relegated from the Premier League last term.

Ex-Premier League manager Holloway has hailed the Championship fixture that will be played at Villa Park, but remained reserved when having the option to pick an outright winner.

“It’s going to be a brilliant clash played in a sensational atmosphere,” Holloway wrote in his Sky Sports column. “But it’s very tough to call. The first goal in this game will be more important than usual.

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“If Aston Villa get it, they could go on and win quite comfortably as the fans will be with them. However, a first goal the other way could lead to a very open game and that will suit Newcastle. I’m on the fence. ”

Roberto Di Matteo’s side sit in 18th place having picked up eight points from their opening eight games, with only one win to their name.

In contrast, Rafa Benitez’ Newcastle are third with 15 points having registered five wins and three losses.

In other Aston Villa team news, McCormack and Clark omitted in combined Villa and Newcastle starting XI.