Whelan at RB, Grabban starts – Strongest 4-1-4-1 Aston Villa XI to face Middlesbrough

Aston Villa got a vital win in the first leg of this playoff tie and in truth, they could’ve won it by a couple had it not been for some great work from Darren Randolph in the Middlesbrough goal. They will be very pleased with the nature of the victory and how they played.

Middlesbrough, however, were not up to their usual high standards and Pulis will be very irritated that they conceded the goal from a set-piece. They will be fired up for the second leg and it could be a fascinating game.

Probable Aston Villa XI

Manager: Steve Bruce

Formation: 4-1-4-1

Sam Johnstone (GK)

Johnstone risked missing the birth of his child to play in the first leg of the playoffs and will do so again for this second leg. Dedication to the cause.

Alan Hutton (LB)

Hutton had a great game in the first leg of the playoff. He defended excellently while also pushing forward well down the left-hand side.

John Terry (CB)

John Terry was commanding and looked like every inch the captain of the team in the previous game. Will be looking to stay strong again in the second leg.

John Terry

James Chester (CB)

Chester continued to excel with John Terry by his side in the first leg and will be hoping for another clean sheet this time around.

Glenn Whelan (RB)

Elmohamady got injured in the first leg and with no direct replacements available, Glenn Whelan may have to step into the role.

Mile Jedinak (CDM)

Jedinak was preferred to Whelan in the first leg and his performance definitely merited his inclusion. Will be looking to keep up this level of performance in the next game as well.

Conor Hourihane

Albert Adomah (LM)

Bruce continues to stick with Adomah in the hope that he will recapture his best form. Bruce is likely to go with the left-winger again, for the second leg.

Conor Hourihane (CM)

Hourihane came back into the squad for the first leg of the playoffs and did alright. He offers experience in the middle of the park, which is essential for games like these.

Jack Grealish (CM)

Had a fantastic game in the first leg and is the first name on Steve Bruce’s teamsheet. His skill and trickery can change the game for Villa.

Lewis Grabban

Robert Snodgrass (RM)

Snodgrass will be looking to go again in the second leg and push Aston Villa over the line and a step closer to the Premier League.

Lewis Grabban (ST)

Grabban was quiet in the first game and will be looking to make up for it in the second leg. Will want a goal.

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