According to the Express & Star, Dean Smith is expected to have FOUR key first-team players back in time for our trip to Villa Park in 10 days time.
Jack Grealish, who has missed their last 3 games, is back in training and looks likely to return, having been a big miss in recent defeats to Wolves, Liverpool and Man City.
The 24-year-old Brummie has been an important player for Aston Villa over the past couple of seasons since turning his career around, with the skipper being the league’s most creative player outside of the ‘big six’ so far this term.
The Express and Star have also revealed that Villa are hopeful first-choice centre-half Bjorn Engels and no.1 Tom Heaton will also be back, with left-back Matt Targett also back in training and expected to play – despite being forced off at Wolves last weekend.
With this in mind, the home side could be fielding a full strength side ahead of our trip to Birmingham a week on Monday.
Steve Bruce will have to do without club captain Jamaal Lascelles ahead of his return to Villa Park, but we arrive in good form and may have a few key players back of our own.
Defenders Florian Lejuene and Fabian Schar are edging closer to returns from knee injuries and are expected to be fit after the international break according to Sky Sports’ Keith Downie.
Lejuene played 71 minutes for the U-23’s at Villa Park recently and came through unscathed, and Steve Bruce has since commented that the Frenchman is eager to get more minutes under his belt.
Any Toon fan can feel fairly confident at the minute that whoever steps in at centre-back will be a solid replacement for Lascelles – something we haven’t been able to say often over the years. With us being well drilled, having reliable centre-backs and a hard working midfield, you have to hope the skipper won’t be badly missed.
A win against Aston Villa will be absolutely huge for NUFC and will give us quite a bit of breathing space from that dread drop zone.
They may have some key players back, but Villa may be there for the taking after a poor run of results recently, not forgetting we have a good record at their place in recent years.