Despite beginning the season with a pair of drab defeats, there’s little doubt that Aston Villa have the squad to challenge for promotion back to the Premier League this season.
And they could be about to strengthen further, with a trio of Premier League talents in the form of James Chester, Ritchie De Laet and Mile Jedinak reportedly close to agreeing a deal with the Villans.
Snapping up Chester from rivals West Brom would certainly be a fantastic bit of business from Roberto Di Matteo, who has the benefit of links with the Baggies after a spell as manager.
The classy defender was in and out of the team at the Hawthorns last season, but his displays for Wales at Euro 2016 underlined the 27-year-old’s quality – and he’d be a real coup for any Championship club.
Meanwhile, De Laet had quite the season last time out. Beginning the campaign at Leicester and finishing it on loan at Middlesbrough, he picked up both a Premier League winners’ medal and won promotion back to the same division with the Teessiders.
But behind the pub quiz fact lies a solid, composed and robust defender – exactly the sort of presence the Villans were lacking in Wednesday night’s embarrassing collapse away at Luton Town.
For his part, Jedinak may not be an obvious fit in a footballing sense like De Laet is, but with the Lions having lacked leadership on the field throughout the past 12 months, a man who captained Australia at the 2014 World Cup could be exactly what their dressing room needs.
However, those odds could be slashed if they continue to bring in quality players – with the likes of Ross McCormack, Tommy Elphick and Pierluigi Gollini having already arrived during this window.
Next up for Di Matteo’s men is a meeting with Rotherham at Villa Park. With the Millers having lost 14 times on the road in last season’s Championship, the 3/4 for a home win looks like excellent value – while Villa can get over their midweek misery by recording a 3-1 win of their own at 14/1.
But will the South Yorkshire outfit have Chester, De Laet and Jedinak to deal with when they visit the former European Cup winners?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing