Aston Villa’s first team is back in action for the first time since New Year’s Day tomorrow night.
Dean Smith takes his side to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City, who are enjoying something of a resurgence.
We don’t know who’s been affected worst by the outbreak at Villa or what kind of squad Smith will have available.
But former Villa ace Gabby Agbonlahor has named the starting XI he wants Smith to pick.
“We’ll have had a three day build-up for the Manchester City game,” said a bullish Smith. The first day was almost like the kids’ first day back in the playground and they were full of energy and enthusiasm.
“They looked really bright, so I’m hopeful for a bright return. I’m not going to make any excuses for the issues. Obviously I’ve got some players who’ve contracted Coronavirus and I’ve got to check whether they’re fully fit.
“I don’t think we’ll be hamstrung by it at all. We’ll have a few players who’ve been affected by it, but we’ve also got a lot of players who’ve had a so-called winter break. Some of our players needed the rest.”
If Villa’s break from action can act like a winter break – if they’ve been fortunate enough to avoid serious issues with Covid-19 – they could come back refreshed.
Lots of Premier League sides look leggy right now and that has been reflected by some low-scoring games.
Villa might be a bit rusty at the Etihad but if Smith has a relatively full squad to pick from, they should compete well.
It remains to be seen if Agbonlahor will get his wish with regards the starting team.
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