Aston Villa kept their hopes of automatic promotion alive on Tuesday night thanks to a 1-0 win over Cardiff City at Villa Park.
However, even the most optimistic of Villa fans will readily admit that the only realistic way they will make it back into the Premier League next season is by winning the play-offs.
Unless they suffer a catastrophic collapse, it’s safe to assure that Villa will at least have a play-off position secured come the end of the season. They currently have a 10 point gap over Middlesbrough in 7th, so they only need one more win from their final four matches to guarantee a play-off position finish.
They have a great opportunity to get that win tonight when they take on Leeds at Villa Park. The Yorkshire-based team have had a very poor season and find themselves sitting in 14th place, a massive 14 points outside the play-off places.
To add to the fact that they have nothing to play for and are ravaged by injuries at the moment, the Villa players will be quietly confident about picking up all three points and keeping the pressure on the Cardiff ad Fulham.
Here is our predicted Villa XI for tonight’s match against Leeds:
GK: Sam Johnstone
Has been Villa’s No.1 all season and that isn’t going to change for this match.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady
With the injury issues Villa have at the back at the moment, Elmohamady is almost certain to keep his place.
CB: James Chester
Chester has been a rock at the back this season and will be one of the first names on the teamsheet for the clash against Leeds.
CB: Mile Jedinak
With Terry still put injured, it’s likely that Jedinak will deputise at CB once again.
LB: Neil Taylor
With Hutton and Tuanzebe on the sidelines, Taylor will most likely be picked to play at left-back.
RM: Robert Snodgrass
Snodgrass hasn’t been at his best lately, but it would still be a surprise to see him dropped for this one.
CM: Glenn Whelan
With Bjarnason likely to miss out and Jedinak likely to be playing in defence, we think Whelan will start in the engine room.
CM: Henri Lansbury
Bruce will be looking to keep everyone fresh for the play-offs, so we think he might give Hourihane a rest on Friday evening.
CM: Jack Grealish
Grealish has been in stunning form lately, and we don’t see him not starting against Leeds on Friday.
LM: Josh Onomah
With Adomah looking knackered, we expect him to be given a rest and think Onomah might be given a start.
ST: Lewis Grabban
Although Kodjia is probably fit enough to start now, we expect Bruce to save him for the inevitable play-offs.