Team News: Aston Villa
Ismaïla Sarr and Abdoulaye Doucouré will be available for selection against Aston Villa tomorrow, while Nigel Pearson also had positive updates regarding José Holebas, Daryl Janmaat, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck.
“Sarr is okay, the benefit [of him going off at half-time against Sheffield United] is he only played 45 minutes so he should be relatively fresh. And Doucouré will also come back into contention from suspension,” said the Head Coach.
“We’ve got one or two that have got knocks but I don’t foresee any major problems. There’s been a bit of sickness going around, so we’ve monitored a couple of players who are a bit under the weather – myself included – but I don’t envisage too many problems.”
The Hornets have been without Welbeck and Cleverley since late October, while full-backs Janmaat and Holebas have been injured since November.
“They’re all making decent progress,” said Pearson. “Janmaat should be back at some point in January, Cleverley hopefully towards the end of January or early February, and Danny Welbeck similar. Holebas trained today, he’s got his broken ribs, but he trained today.”
Craig Dawson also appeared at Bramall Lane for the first time since he went off with a head injury against Burnley.
“Dawson got on for a bit, not a long stint, but he did what it said on the tin, he went on for a corner and won the header,” said Pearson. “He trains really well, he’s a good pro, he’s very committed and it’s important that players have to be mentally and physically ready to take their chance.”
The team has been plagued by injuries this season and has struggled for depth as a result, perhaps no more so than during this busy festive period. With big returns on the horizon, Pearson is looking forward to having a larger pool of players to pick from.
“We lost a bit of depth to our squad because we’ve got a number of senior players and regular players out, so it will be a bonus to get those players back for sure, and then it coincides with January as well and I’ve not discarded that we might as a club freshen it up, but those discussions are ongoing,” he said.
“At this moment it’s a case of trying to manage the fixture congestion, keeping players as fresh as possible and continuing our fight to find a way out of the bottom three, because that’s what it’s about for the remainder of the season. The players have worked really hard and we do feel like we’ve got quality, unfortunately at the moment some of the depth in our first-team squad is unavailable.”