Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba is set to return to the Aston Villa first XI at Stamford Bridge tomorrow when they take on Chelsea.
Nakamba was dropped to the bench when he returned from national duty, as manager Dean Smith, felt he had played too many games within a short time.
The Zimbabwean was again on the bench in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Smith has an abundance of options in midfield and could recall the combative Nakamba to guard against Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, Matteo Kovacic and Jorginho.
Nakamba would replace either Douglas Luiz and Conor Hourihane with the latter’s creativity from set-pieces perhaps giving him the edge over the Brazilian.
Villa fought back from 2-1 down to claim a point against Manchester United on Sunday but still await a victory against a top ten Premier League side.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League games and could be without star striker and former Villa loanee Tammy Abraham at Stamford Bridge
Villa have lost eight of their last nine meetings with Chelsea and haven’t won in west London since a 3-1 win under Alex McLeish in 2011.
If the claret and blues need an omen, some comfort can be taken from Lampard’s record against Smith in the dug-out. Smith boasts three wins, nine goals, two clean sheets and a play-off final winners’ medal against Chelsea’s head coach.
But how will Smith approach Wednesday night’s clash? Two changes are likely to be forced upon Smith with French right-back Frederic Guilbert suspended after collecting his fifth Premier League caution of the campaign at Old Trafford.
Anwar El Ghazi also needed to be withdrawn due to injury and looks unlikely to be ready for Villa’s next match.
Jed Steer (leg) and Keinan Davis (hamstring) are Villa’s only other confirmed absentees.
This will be Villa’s first midweek Premier League clash of the season so Smith could be tempted to make a few alterations to his team.
Guilbert’s suspension and El Ghazi’s injury have forced his hand, but Smith will be pondering other changes.
(4-3-3): Heaton; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Wesley, Grealish. – Birmingham Live