Aston Villa returned to winning ways in the Premier League on New Year’s day with a 1-2 victory over Burnley. Dean Smith’s attentions now turn to the FA Cup as they head to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham.
Given the injury news that broke yesterday and our recent form, the FA Cup doesn’t seem to hold the same magic as it usually does for me. One of my favourite days in the football season is the third-round day but Premier League survival trumps that at the moment. I don’t feel that I am alone with this either looking on social media with many happy for Smith to give some of the youth players an opportunity.
Fulham, on the other hand, will also have their eyes on promotion back to the Premier League as they currently sit on the playoff positions.
This game does have the added extra spice of what happened the last time these two sides met. Fulham and Villa supporters have goaded each other repeatedly on social media since Fulham beat Villa in the playoff final 2 years ago.
Villa fans will be pleased to hear that there will be No VAR in this game.
As it has been well reported lately, Aston Villa will be without goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley following cruciate ligament injuries in the win over Burnley. John McGinn is still missing with a foot fracture and is not expected to return until around March.
Slightly better news for Villa is that Matt Targett is closing in on a return from a hamstring strain. I doubt he will be risked against Fulham though. Keinan Davis is closing in on a return but is still a week or two away.
Fulham have injury problems of their own and manager Scott Parker has stated that he won’t be able to rotate the team the way he would like due to these issues. Parker stated: “Our squad’s pretty light at this present moment in time because we’ve got so many injuries, so the fit players who are around it and in a state to play will be the boys who are out there.”
They currently have the following players on their injury list: Steve Sessegnon (groin), Harrison Reed (calf), Josh Onomah (illness), Tom Cairney (calf) and Alfie Mawson (muscular problem).
Michael Hector could feature after joining Fulham back in September from Chelsea but not being eligible until now.