Villa host Bolton in the third round of the League Cup having struggled to progress past Hereford but are one of only 4 sides left in the Premier League to remain unbeaten. Bolton only managed a 2-1 home win over Macclesfield in the second round, having to come back from behind, and both sides are expected to ring a few changes from their respective weekend line-ups.
Alex McLeish has stated his personal desire to retain the League Cup after winning the tournament with Birmingham last season but has a mini injury crisis on his hands so could give a number of youngsters and fringe players a chance to impress. Bolton may also let a number of players prove their worth for a place in the league XI but will have a number of ex-Villans in their ranks who will undoubtedly be keen to prove the club wrong for offloading them.
The likes of Bannan and Albrighton are likely to feature but I would also like to see youngsters such as Gardner and Johnson in contention, with Herd and Baker available in defence and a number of players in need of a rest.
Team News (courtesy of WhoScored)
The likes of Darren Bent (groin) and Stiliyan Petrov (ankle) were both withdrawn against Newcastle while Stephen Warnock played through the pain barrier with a hip injury so all are likely to be rested. The trio join the likes of Carlos Cuellar, Eric Lichaj and Emile Heskey on the sidelines, while Ciaran Clark and Jermaine Jenas were both not fit enough to make the bench on the weekend, leaving Alex McLeish with an early season injury crisis.
The Scot is still likely to make some changes with fringe players such as Marc Albrighton and Stephen Ireland potentially in line for a start, while Chris Herd and Nathan Baker could come in for the senior full-backs. Injuries may enforce the inclusion of the likes of Dunne and Collins at the back and in from Agbonlahor upfront, though Shay Given is likely to be rested in goal with Brad Guzan available.
Bolton will take 3 former Villa players to Villa Park and the likes of Zat Knight, Gary Cahill and Nigel Reo-Coker could all start, with the latter making his first appearance against the club since his summer departure. Stuart Holden may well make his comeback after breaking his leg earlier in the year and his return will be a huge boost to Owen Coyle’s side. The likes of Mark Davies, Muamba and Pratley will all be vying for a central midfield berth with the aforementioned Reo-Coker and Holden. Tuncay should move to his more natural position upfront due to suspension to striker Ivan Klasnic with Chris Eagles potentially returning on the right wing, with David N’Gog and Gael Kakuta also available in their respective positions.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Herd, Collins, Dunne, Baker; Ireland, Delph; Albrighton, Bannan, Agbonlahor; Delfouneso
Key Man: Stephen Ireland
Goalscorer(s): Abrighton, Collins
Final Score: Villa win 2-1 AET
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