Aston Villa Wembley Team News
To be honest I haven’t had a second to think about matters on the pitch in the build-up to Wembley, so this is a first. While the Spurs win was a great three points, it came at a cost with injuries to Clark and Gabby, and a suspension for Carlos Sanchez.
Liverpool on the other hand will be buoyed by the return of Steven Gerrard, who is now fit to play after completing a Monday night game behind closed doors.
After Tim Sherwood’s press conference today, here’s the situation of those who were touch and go to play a part at Wembley for Villa:
[quote_center]Sinclair also has the distinction of scoring a hat-trick at Wembley [/quote_center]
Alan Hutton is still a few week away and his only chance of playing at Wembley would be the final, if Villa make it through.
Ciaran Clark rotten luck for the most improved player (him or Hutton!). Luckily though Ron Vlaar is back and his World Cup experience will help Villa at Wembley, and the centre-back position is also bolstered by Nathan Baker’s return. There’s even a chance that both of those will start over Jores Okore, but personally, I would favour having the Dane’s pace at the back.
Carlos Sanchez as mentioned, is suspended. This is a shame, as his break-up play would be suited to this game and he also would have brought big game World Cup experience to the party.
Gabby Agbonlahor has been described as ‘touch-and-go’ by Sherwood and he’ll be given until the last minute to prove his fitness. Villa getting the Sunday semi-final match slot instead of the Saturday one, may be crucial here in helping him play. The Villa forward was also in the mix of the crucial action at Villa’s two trips to Wembley in 2010, so it would be a big plus to have him feature.
Scott Sinclair is available. This for me is the biggest news of the day. If Gabby is a doubt then Sinclair offers at least a degree of like-for-like pace and directness. Sinclair was finding his stride with his willingness to take people on and he’s actually Villa’s top scorer in the FA Cup with two goals, including his goal that clinched the tie against the Baggies.
Sinclair also has the distinction of scoring a hat-trick at Wembley for Swansea in the play-off final, so having him fit is a massive boost to Villa.
Ashley Westwood is fit. While I’m unsure if there is a place for Westwood in a top-half Villa team, at least he gives Sherwood an option in the absence of Carlos Sanchez, thus dampening the Columbian’s loss.
If Westwood wants to prove himself as the real deal, then there’s no better stage to do it than at Wembley.
Shay Given will be between the sticks in the semi-final as per the previous rounds. Given always used to make me nervous when it came to crosses – especially in the League Cup run of 2012/13 – but Guzan in recent weeks, seems to have lost some assurance in his game.
Given has been decent in the FA Cup run so far, so there’s no qualms with his inclusion. Ultimately, he also has more experience in terms of high pressure games too. He will no doubt play a big part in the outcome of the game.
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