Villa vs Rapid – Agbonlahor ready to make first-team comeback

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Gabby Agbonlahor is ready to make his first start of the season for Aston Villa as they look to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League by gaining the desired result in the second leg of their tie with Rapid Vienna.

Kevin MacDonald opted to choose a relatively inexperienced side for the first leg in Austria, but came away with a 1-1 draw, thanks to Barry Bannan’s goal.

This seemed to put the reserve team boss in pole position to replace Martin O’Neill in the Villa hotseat, until he suffered an unexpected 6-0 defeat against Newcastle in their latest Premier League fixture.

Villa chairman Randy Lerner has not discarded MacDonald permanently from his thoughts and has given him two games to prove that the Newcastle loss was a freakish result.

The first of these comes against Rapid and Villa are 4/9 to win at home and seal their qualification.

Agbonlahor has been troubled by back and hamstring problems but featured in a practice match for 45 minutes against Burton earlier this week and found the target.

He is 4/5 to score at any time against Rapid as MacDonald may opt to pick a stronger side than the one that performed so well in Austria.

Rapid knocked Villa out of the competition at the same stage a year ago, when they progressed on away goals after losing 2-1 at Villa Park.

A similar result will not suffice this year and they are 6/1 to win and 11/4 to qualify.

Meanwhile, recent Rangers signing Nikica Jelavic is hoping that Villa qualify as that will allow him to represent his new club in Europe this season.

Jelavic has already represented Rapid in Europa League qualifying and will be cup-tied if they progress to the group stages of the competition.

Villa are 16/1 to win the Europa League this season. See the entire Europa League winners market.

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