Fourteen days have passed since our very disappointing performance in the defeat at Wolves. Following another boring International break, Aston Villa finally returns to action with Newcastle United the visitors to Villa Park.
A lot has been made about Steve Bruce’s return to B6 and it is no real surprise that the 58-year-old is trying to make the game all about him. Over the past few days, he has said many things about his time as Villa boss. The one that stood out to me was when he stated he built our side. Let’s ignore the fact that from our strongest side, only one Steve Bruce signing remains in the side. Enough of him anyway, we had more than enough of them during his two-year spell as our manager.
Today is all about Aston Villa and three points. The morale in and around the club since Dean Smith has been at the helm has been quite positive. The last thing we need right now is another setback. A positive performance and three points feel a must – so early in the season. The management team would have looked at the fixtures when they were released in July and pinpointed a home game against Newcastle as one we should be looking to win. Nothing has changed since then.
Despite fans hating International breaks, it is probably just what Dean Smith required so he could get some of his first-team players back. I would regard the spine of our strongest side made up five players, Tom Heaton, Bjorn Engels, Tyrone Mings, John McGinn and Jack Grealish. Three of those were missing in our defeat to Wolves and we are not good enough to cope without such losses.
Smith is hopeful that Heaton, Engels and Grealish will all be fit to take on Newcastle tonight. Matt Targett has recovered from concussion also and is available for selection.
Newcastle could welcome back Florian Lejeune and Fabian Schar who have both recovered from knee injuries. Former Villa defender, Ciaran Clark is also likely to overcome a minor injury.
Captain Jamall Lascelles and winger Matt Ritchie remain sidelined.