Gerard Houllier will welcome a selection headache ahead of tomorrow’s away trip to Everton, with only full-backs Kyle Walker and Luke Young doubtful, though both are likely to travel to Goodison Park. An international break was a timely distraction to the task facing the club, though man of the match performances from Young and Downing against Wales and Ghana respectively kept the spotlight on the question, why are Villa so low? The hosts have a few injury concerns and will be without some key players as they look to assure safety, with a win tomorrow all but doing so for David Moyes’ men. The Villa boss has claimed that both Collins and Dunne will feature after recovering from injury with last month’s disciplinary issue behind them. The only definite absentee will be young defender Ciaran Clark who serves his second game of a two-match ban after picking up a hefty 10 yellow cards.
Villa’s French manager will be hoping the attacking threat of Young, Bent and Downing which has served England so well in the last week, can maintain their form into a difficult away trip to Everton. Houllier will have a full compliment of attacking and midfield choices to select from with Young set to be kept in his favoured, if not by the Villa fans, supporting role.
A complete overhaul of the defence that played in the 1-0 defeat to Wolves last time out seems inevitable as Houllier has importantly put any backroom issues at the club to one side in what is an 8 game relegation battle for the Villans. Dunne and Collins both made it through international duties this week and are likely to start in the centre of defence. The latter was less than impressive against Villa’s strike force in the England clash, first clumsily fouling Young to give the visitors an early penalty and then allowing Bent to run through an prod home a Young cross. The defender will need to be better against a free-flowing Everton side.
The reverse fixture earlier in the season saw a Luke Young goal give Villa a 1-0 victory at VP and remains one of the club’s best results in a disappointing season. The right back is set to return from injury but with Clark out, the 31-year-old is likely to be deployed in left back role over Nathan Baker. Kyle Walker is more of a doubt having picked up a hip injury in training with England. The 20-year-old returned to Villa Park early and though his progress has been steady, he revealed on Twitter he had only began ball work on Thursday, with today likely to be the real test, so I would suggest that the loanee may have to settle for a place on the bench. If this is the case, Spaniard Carlos Cuellar is likely to deputise at right back.
The hosts will be without a trio of key players for tomorrow’s clash with Louis Saha likely to miss the rest of the season with an ankle problem. The Frenchman is joined on the sidelines but creative midfield duo Mikel Arteta (hamstring) and Marouane Fellaini (ankle).
Youngster Jose Baxter remains in the treatment room though fellow prospects Jack Rodwell and Seamus Coleman will be hoping to return after picking up knocks on international duty with England Under 21s and Ireland respectively.
Everton’s main threat to a Villa defence which has shipped more headed goals (13) and more goals from set pieces than any other team in the league. The Aussie is likely to support lone striker Jermaine Beckford, who has started to weigh in with his share of goals after a slow start to the season.
Possible Starting XI: Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, L Young; Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Makoun, Downing; A Young; Bent
Key Man: James Collins
Goalscorer(s): Bent, Downing
Final Score: 2-2
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