How Villa could line up vs Leeds: Gerrard forced into two more key changes

Aston Villa travel to face Leeds Utd at Elland Road on Sunday, and Steven Gerrard will be forced into further changes due to injury setbacks.

Villa were already without Matty Cash (hamstring) in our win over Southampton prior to the international break, and Gerrard confirmed on Friday that the Polish international will rejoin full training on Monday, as per VillaTV.

Further, he added that Boubacar Kamara (knee) will be missing until after the World Cup, while Lucas Digne (heel) is facing a spell on the sidelines too as he’ll be assessed again in around two weeks time.

READ MORE: Aston Villa injury news: Matty Cash provides positive update on hamstring issue

With Diego Carlos already ruled out, it’s a difficult situation for the Villa boss as we look to build on our positive results earlier in the month and cope with a busy fixture schedule between now and the break for the World Cup.

Having built a squad that gives him options in situations like this though, Gerrard will have alternatives ready to step in and fill those voids, but it will be interesting to see which solutions he picks and whether or not we can continue to put together an improved run of form as there still a long way to go to get ourselves on track.

Young to continue to deputise, defensive tweak

Ashley Young has impressed while filling in for Cash at right back, but with another selection headache on the opposite flank with Digne now out too coupled with Young’s versatility, Gerrard may opt to switch the experienced veteran over to the left side with options available to him on the right.

Calum Chambers and Ezri Konsa are both capable of playing there, while shifting the latter across could also open the door for Jan Bednarek to come in at centre-half.

Throwing in Ludwig Augustinsson for his debut at a hostile Elland Road would be a big call, but ultimately Villa signed the Swedish international for a reason and Gerrard should be confident about including him when needed.

In turn, there are various options on the table to deal with the absences of Cash and Digne, but Young and Augustinsson could be the right way to go to avoid too much disruption and allow players to play in their more natural positions.

Emiliano Martinez, Tyrone Mings and Konsa will all likely continue in the heart of the backline.

Luiz to be restored in No.6 role?

Gerrard also has a selection conundrum in midfield.┬áThe simple tweak in Kamara’s absence would be to move Douglas Luiz back into the No.6 role, with John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey providing support either side in what has progressively become the same-look midfield that featured heavily last season.

However, Marvelous Nakamba and Morgan Sanson will undoubtedly be desperate to come out of the wilderness and feature too so it’s unclear if they will now get a chance with Kamara out, but they certainly offer different dynamics and abilities that should be utilised in the coming weeks.

Nakamba would be a more natural replacement given his defensive strengths, while Sanson has shown when given an opportunity that he adds important qualities to our midfield with his aggressiveness off the ball and technical quality on it.

A midfield of McGinn, Luiz and Ramsey would be the ‘safe’ option though given it’s what we’ve seen on so many occasions previously. However, summer signing Leander Dendoncker will also surely come into the conversation too, which could allow Ramsey to continue to play in a more advanced role in a front three alongside Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey.

That said, it would come as no surprise if Philippe Coutinho is given another chance to impress with Emiliano Buendia continuing to sit on the bench, while Watkins looks well placed to keep his spot in the Villa XI ahead of Danny Ings to continue to lead the line for us.

Naturally, there’s always the concern that Gerrard might revert back to going with two up top, but away from home against an energetic Leeds side who will take the game to us, we need more presence and control particularly in midfield for this one if we want to take something from it.

It will undoubtedly be a difficult task, but the focus will be on maintaining the defensive organisation and stability that we’ve established in the last two games and show more quality in the final third and take our chances when they come our way.