Aston Villa face rivals West Brom on Sunday night with the visitors to Villa Park battling for their Premier League survival.
Villa have been in poor form in recent months, and it hasn’t helped that we’ve been without captain Jack Grealish for the last eight league games.
Dean Smith confirmed in his press conference on Friday that our skipper will also be absent this weekend, and so we’ll have to try and find a spark elsewhere to improve on a record of just two wins in those eight outings without him.
Further, the Villa boss added that Morgan Sanson and Trezeguet are also sidelined, although Wesley could be on the bench as he looks to make his comeback from a long injury layoff of his own.
Villa will also have to make do without Matty Cash who is suspended after his red card against Manchester City, and so it remains to be seen if Smith goes with experience or perhaps looks to give youth a chance at right-back.
While the hope for us is that we can still secure a top-half finish this season, West Brom are nine points adrift of safety with just six games remaining.
In turn, there is plenty on the line for the Baggies this weekend as they will be desperate to take their bid for survival as far as possible, and so Villa will have to match them in terms of energy, desire and commitment and hope that our quality comes to the fore to make the difference.
Potential Villa line-up vs West Brom
Kaine Kesler could be in with a chance of featuring after training with the first-team on Friday afternoon, as he pushes to be given an opportunity to impress by filling in for Cash.
However, the expectation is that Smith will go for the tried and tested option in stalwart Ahmed Elmohamady, who could be making his final appearances for the club in the coming weeks with his current contract set to expire in the summer.
The rest of the backline picks itself when at full health and so no other changes are expected in that department.
Elsewhere, Smith does have options with Anwar El Ghazi, Ross Barkley and Keinan Davis pushing for a starting berth having come off the bench in midweek, but the hope is that youngster Jacob Ramsey continues to get playing time and keeps his place in the starting XI.
Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba will likely fill the deeper midfield roles to provide defensive protection, while John McGinn will be deployed further up the pitch again as he looks to add to his tallies after scoring against City and providing an assist at Liverpool.
Bertrand Traore could keep his spot out on the right wing with a lack of alternative options, while Villa will no doubt be led by Ollie Watkins up front, with the 25-year-old England international looking for his 15th goal of the season.
Probable Villa XI vs West Brom: Martinez; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, Nakamba; Traore, McGinn, Ramsey; Watkins.