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Extended Bolton Preview: Dunne, Cuellar Out – Collins, Baker Doubt

Aston Villa travel North once again after suffering a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City last time out. Gerard Houllier made wholesale changes that day (8 in total) and you can expect more of the same after the Frenchman sacrificed the FA Cup in order to focus on league survival and, more directly, tomorrow’s game away to Bolton. In doing so the manager has heaped a lot of pressure on his side and himself to get a result at the Reebok, which is no mean feat nowadays. In fact, 7 of Owen Coyle’s sides 9 league wins this season have come at home so it could be an uphill struggle. More bad news was announced today, revealing that Richard Dunne has a dislocated shoulder and will be out for up to a month. The Irishman, on of the 3 to keep their place in Wednesday’s starting XI, joins Spaniard Carlos Cuellar on the sidelines, meaning a rush back from calf and head injuries respectively, may be on the cards for James Collins and Nathan Baker.

The fringe and young players chosen in midweek are all likely to miss out, though defensive problems will still leave Houllier with a youthful back-four. Luke Young became a father to a baby boy in the week and is ready to return after a lengthy lay-off but is significantly lacking in match practice.

Jean Makoun completes his three-match ban after this game so is unavailable once again but Darren Bent will return after being cup-tied for the City clash. Pires and Reo-Coker may come straight back into central midfield after impressing in the 4-1 win over Blackburn, at the expense of the likes of Petrov, Bannan and Bradley, who failed to impress on his full debut.

Stewart Downing, Marc Albrighton and Ashley Young are all fresh after being rested, with the latter holding a terrific recent record against the Trotters. In his last 5 games against Bolton, Young has scored in each and will be looking to build on the brace he scored against Rovers as well as a fantastic free-kick netted in Kevin MacDonald’s last game as caretaker boss at Villa Park earlier in the season against Wanderers.

Bolton could welcome back full-back Gretar Steinsson, a welcome boost after hearing of long-term injuries to Sam Rickets and ex-Villan Zat Knight. Another former Villa player, Gary Cahill will hold the fort in his absence alongside supposed long-time Villa target and new signing David Wheater.

Yet another old Villa man, JLloyd Samuel remains a long-term absentee along with Ricardo Gardner, Sean Davis and Joey O’Brien, but their strongest XI is still largely unaffected. Reports suggest that Daniel Sturridge, on-loan from Chelsea, is also fancied at Villa Park after scoring 4 in 4 at the start of his temporary stint under Coyle. He is likely to partner skipper and constant handful Kevin Davies, with Johan Elmander, who impressed many at the start of the campaign, seemingly looking for a move elsewhere once his contract runs out in the summer.

Couple of pointless stats for you, Gabby Agbonlahor, who I imagine will be dropped to the bench tomorrow, needs just 2 more goals to reach the 50 mark in the league. A promising sign for the visitors in Saturday’s game is that they have not lost in their last 7 trips to Bolton.

Pre-Match Predictions

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; Walker, Collins, Clark, L Young; Downing, Pires, Reo-Coker, Albrighton; Young, Bent

Key Man: Ashley Young

Goalscorer(s): A Young, Bent

Final Score: 2-2

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