This is the likely Aston Villa starting XI if Lansbury and Hourihane are signed
COMMENT By Will Butcher
Steve Bruce looks set to welcome two new signings into Villa Park and that will mean a major reshuffle to his starting XI.
Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane are reported to be on the verge of signing and both players will go straight into the first team.
It’s unlikely that both will sign in time to play a part in Saturday’s game with Preston, but it’s possible.
Known to have favoured a 4-2-3-1 system this season since taking over from former manager Roberto Di Matteo, Bruce will now rethink his side’s system to incorporate the midfield duo.
Reverting to a 4-3-3 system will allow both Lansbury and Hourihane to come into the side, as the Championship captains edge closer to completing moves to Villa Park.
The midfielders would come in for Aaron Tshibola and Leandro Bacuna if both players are available, with Jack Grealish coming in for Gabby Agbonlahor.
The relegated Premier League side have been lacking an attacking bite from deep this season, with the likes of Ashley Westwood, Gary Gardner and Aaron Tshibola failing to impress.
With Australia captain Mile Jedinak at the base of the midfield, Lansbury and Hourihane will be given license to get forward and join the attack after proving their eye for goal this season.
Scoring a combined 11 goals, the two new signings could provide the missing link in Villa’s side as Bruce looks to secure a fifth career promotion to the Premier League.
Johnstone continues in goal after Pierluigi Gollini join Atalanta on loan. Despite losing to Midlands rivals Wolves on Saturday by one goal to nil, the defence remains the same.
Alan Hutton, Tommy Elphick, James Chester and Jordan Amavi start, as Elphick continues to deputise for Nathan Baker who looks to recover from a hamstring injury.
With a new-look midfield potentially holding the key to boosting Villa’s playoff chances, the attack will also be changed into a front three.
Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew continue to participate at the African Cup of Nations, which will see Ross McCormack spearhead the Villa attack. Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah start out wide.
A win for Villa could see them leapfrog Hourihane’s current side Barnsley if the Tykes lose to Leeds in Saturday’s evening kick-off.
In other Aston Villa news, Tony Xia has delivered this transfer update.