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Sky Sports pundit: This is problem area for Aston Villa in clash v Newcastle, this player is key

By Matt Farr

Sky Sports pundit Danny Higginbotham believes Aston Villa’s lack of a defensive-midfielder could cost them when they face off against Newcastle on Monday.

Aston Villa head into the tie in 17th place in the Championship, on the back of a miserable eight-game winless run, a streak that dates as far back as Boxing Day.

Steve Bruce’s side have conceded 14 goals from those eight games, and they are set to go up against the league’s highest-goalscorers in Newcastle.

Higginbotham revealed to Sky Sports that part of Aston Villa’s recent defensive problems has been the absence of Mile Jedinak. The 32-year-old defensive-midfielder has been an important player at Villa Park this season, appearing in 22 of their games in all competitions.

However, he has missed Villa’s last five league games with injury, and the club have struggled to fill the void left by his absence.

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The midfield maestro could be set to make a return to the line-up against Newcastle, and Higginbotham believes that it would be a major boost for Aston Villa.

He told Sky Sports: “The problem they are having in midfield area is that there’s no real defensive midfielder who is going to sit there and protect that back four.

“It’s something that has been quite apparent with Aston Villa recently. They’re trying to score more goals and get on the front foot, but they’re leaving themselves a little bit exposed at the back.

“Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane are two of the best midfielders in the Championship, but the problem is that neither is defensively-minded. Aston Vila are starting to be open to the counter-attack.

“That’s where I think the return of Mile Jedinak could be key for them.”

The last time the two sides met in the Championship this season, the game ended one-apiece, after Aaron Tshibola’s last-minute header cancelled out Tommy Elphick’s first-half own goal.

However, there is much more at stake for both clubs since their September meeting, and victory is imperative for the former Premier League duo.

Newcastle will be keen to return to the top of the table at the expense of Brighton, while Aston Villa run the risk of moving one step closer to the relegation zone.

In other Aston Villa news, Bruce has urged this Aston Villa man to keep his head at St. James’ Park.

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