If taking on a relegation battle that sees Aston Villa visit Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City as part of their run in was a tough task, doing so without most of the first-team squad is hardly something for Tim Sherwood to relish.
As Tom Cleverley limped off in the 1-0 defeat to Swansea last time out, the on-loan Red Devil’s groin problem took Villa’s injury tally to 11.
Christian Benteke, also removed in that defeat to the Swans, has a hip complaint that is causing constant discomfort, but it is in defence where the Villans are really struggling.
Ron Vlaar, Matt Lowton, Philippe Senderos, Nathan Baker, Aly Cissokho, Chris Herd and some-time full back Kieran Richardson are all suffering from injuries in some form, leaving Sherwood with just two fit defenders in the entire club.
Sherwood hopes the upcoming international break allows at least two of those wounded defenders to recover, so that a make-shift back line against United next can be avoided. If it can’t, expect to see the 9/1 currently offered on a Villa win grow substantially.
Joe Cole and Libor Kozak are the other men unavailable for selection, but as neither has been central to the Midlands club’s season, they aren’t deemed as big losses.
With Sherwood praising Cleverley’s form recently, Benteke key to scoring the goals that will keep the side up and fit defenders a vital part of winning football matches, the former Tottenham manager will need to add ‘healing hands’ to the talents on his CV if the club are to survive the drop.
The FA Cup semi-finalists, whose league assignment is at Old Trafford on April 4, are currently 10/3 to be playing their football in the Championship next term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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