Thanks to a variety of injuries - thankfully none of which are too serious - Aston Villa will be without three of its regular starters when the club travels to West Ham United on Saturday. Gabby Agbonlahor, Joe Bennett, and Antonio Luna are all expected to miss the match, according to the official site. Of the three, it appears that Luna's injury is the most serious, as he's expected to miss a couple of weeks after tweaking his hamstring in last Saturday's match.
Gabby has been dealing with a hurt ankle and won't be ready for Saturday, and Bennett has a really vague "sore back." Hopefully that's not too much to be concerned about, because Bennett has actually been pretty solid this season for Aston Villa.
Paul Lambert is spinning the injuries as a chance for fringe players to get a shot at starting, but to me that seems a bit disingenuous. I don't think we'll be seeing Nicklas Helenius take Gabby's spot, but rather Libor Kozak or Aleksandar Tonev, neither of which is particularly appealing. But, if we're being honest, Gabby hasn't been all that great himself lately, either.
In the back, Villa have the depth to make up for missing two defenders to start. Ciaran Clark and Leandro Bacuna will probably slot in for Bennett and Luna, respectively. But while a back line of Bacuna, Ron Vlaar, Clark, and Nathan Baker (in some arrangement) is fine, it doesn't really leave too much depth in case of the seemingly inevitable first-half injury.
Jack will have a post up tomorrow morning discussing possible shapes that Villa might play to cope with the injuries, but I wonder if this doesn't merit the appearance of the 3-5-2 that we saw against Manchester City. A back line of Vlaar, Clark, and Baker wouldn't be terrible and I think they could handle West Ham's less-potent-than-Villa attack. How do you think the injuries will affect Lambert's decisions for Saturday? Let us know in the comments!