Aston Villa play, Gareth Southgate’s Middlesbrough in the Premier League at Villa Park on Sunday.
Villa boss Martin O’Neill will go into this clash with Boro full of confidence, despite losing 2-0 to Newcastle United at St James’ Park last Monday. The Villans are top of their UEFA Cup group and 5th in the Premiership, with the defeat against the Magpies the first since the International break. O’Neill will be confident of collecting all three points at against Middlesbrough, with the Midlands club unbeaten at Villa Park this season.
Southgate will be wondering which Boro team will turn up at Villa, the team that beat Manchester City 2-0 at the Riverside Stadium 10 days ago or the one that has lost to West Bromwich Albion and North East rivals Sunderland this season. Boro have lost 3 of their five away matches this season and are just off the pace in the Premier League in 8th place.
Villa, are unable to call on Stiliyan Petrov (hamstring), who will be out for 2 weeks and long-term absentee Wilfred Bouma (ankle). O’Neill is likely to recall captain Martin Laursen along with Gareth Barry, Nigel Reo-Coker and keeper Brad Friedel, who were all rested for the UEFA Cup win over Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Boro will be without Rhys Williams (knee) and Mohamed Shawky (thigh), but could welcome back defender Robert Huth for the trip to the Midlands if the former Chelsea player shakes off a foot injury in time.
Aston Villa: (from) Friedel, Guzan, L Young, Cuellar, Laursen, Davies, Shorey, Milner, Routledge, Barry, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, A Young, Carew, Agbonlahor, Harewood, Knight, Gardner, Salifou, Osbourne, Delfouneso
Middlesbrough: (from) Turnbull, Huth, Hoyte, Wheater, Taylor, O’Neil, Riggott, Pogatetz, Digard, Mido, Aliadiere, Emnes, Alves, Tuncay, Downing, Arca, Jones, Bates, A Johnson, J Johnson, McMahon, Stelle, Porritt, Owens, Hines, Grounds, Walker