Aston Villa get to travel to Wembley to take on Liverpool in the FA Cup semifinal this weekend. It may well me the most important and exciting moment the club have had since the departure of Martin O'Neill. But the match may be coming at the worst possible time for a club who have been absolutely riddled with injuries this season.
Saturday's win at Tottenham was a huge victory in the league for the club, but it came at the expense of Gabby Agbonlahor and Ciaran Clark, who injured their hamstring and knee respectively. Carlos Sánchez added to the club's issues by getting himself a red card that will see him miss Sunday. By themselves, the issues accrued on Saturday wouldn't be too bad, but they come on top of existing injuries to Aly Cissokho, Alan Hutton, and Scott Sinclair. Ashley Westwood, who many are counting on to fill Sánchez's role, has had hamstring issues lately. At that point even Tim Sherwood would have to consider adding in Carles Gil, but there have been rumours that he hurt his thigh in training.
So how does Sherwood field a starting XI that can work well against a down but still dangerous Liverpool side? The back line might be okay, though the possibility of Kieran Richardson getting another start at left back is a horrifying one. In the attack, Christian Benteke has demonstrated his need to have a strike partner, and that may mean that Andi Weimann gets a start that he hasn't earned at all. But it's the midfield that's really terrifying. Fabian Delph should bit fit, as should Tom Cleverley and Jack Grealish. If Ashley Westwood can slot in at the back of Sherwood's preferred diamond, things could be okay from the whistle. But given the club's propensity for racking up injuries, the lack of depth is disturbing.
But we've been surprised before. Sherwood managed to get just enough out of his team at White Hart Lane to get the win, and they were featuring many of the same injury issues. Maybe he can work his magic twice. Or maybe Liverpool's poor form throughout the Cup will come into play and Villa will be able to surprise them. Relying on luck is never something you'd like to do, though. Especially in a Cup semifinal. It's clear by now that the injury gods hate the claret and blue, but they could hardly have chosen a worse time to take out their anger.