Venue: Villa Park
Date: Tuesday 14th February 2017
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Aston Villa: L D L L L
Barnsley: W W L D D
Last time the two teams met: 27th September 2016 – Barnsley 1-1 Aston Villa
Sam Winnall scored a late equaliser to cancel out Jordan Ayew’s strike, as Roberto Di Matteo’s Villa side threw away yet more points.
After Saturday’s first home defeat of the season, Bruce’s men look to turn around their recent bad run when they host Barnsley tonight.
The Villans currently have the second worst record in the Football League in 2017, having picked up just one point from a possible fifteen, beaten only by Leicester City. This is something that the club needs to address and Bruce will hope to start with a morale-boosting victory over their visitors from Yorkshire.
The club’s hopes of a promising end to the season look to have ended with the Villans now sixteen points off the play-off places.
Bruce has persisted with a 5-3-2 formation for the last two games. Although Saturday’s game was promising in parts, the system has not changed the club’s fortunes and the manager has a big call about whether to keep going with it or to revert to his trusted 4-3-3 formation.
The issue with reverting is that he would need to take either Kodjia or Hogan out of their central roles. Kodjia does have a tendency to play out on the left though so that could be the possible solution to Bruce’s problem.
The visitors come into the game after picking up a decent point against promotion-chasing Reading. Many expected the Tykes to completely implode after losing star players James Bree and Conor Hourihane to Villa and Sam Winnall to Sheffield Wednesday but they have reacted well and will come to Villa Park feeling a little more confident than their hosts.
Jack Grealish is available for selection after serving a one-match ban for his sending off against Nottingham Forest.
Mile Jedinak and Gabby Agbonlahor will once again miss out for Villa with groin and hamstring injuries respectively.
Former Tyke James Bree looks set to miss out also after he picked up a knee injury prior to the weekend’s defeat to Ipswich Town.
Albert Adomah and André Green will be pushing for places in the starting line-up if Bruce decides to revert to the 4-3-3 formation that he has ditched recently.
Barnsley will be without midfielder Josh Scowen, who picked up an ankle injury in the 0-0 draw with Reading last time out.
Alex Mowatt serves his final game of a three-match ban, whilst Aidy White is still suffering from a pelvic injury.
Defender Adam Jackson should be fit for selection after missing out at the weekend through illness.
One to watch:
Tom Bradshaw (pictured) joined Barnsley in the summer after impressing in League One for Walsall.
He has had to wait for a proper run in the side with Sam Winnall being preferred as Paul Heckingbottom’s first choice striker but Winnall’s January departure has given Bradshaw his chance.
The twenty-four-year-old is a player who has the awareness to pick up dangerous positions in the area and will cause the Villa defenders a lot of issues if he is given the opportunity.
He has scored five times this season and, as a Villa fan, he is sure to be fired up to add to that total.