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Villa vs. Burnley: One last push to get into the Wembley XI

While there’s not much to play for on the pitch tomorrow against Burnley, squad places might be up for play ahead of the FA Cup Final.

Dave Thompson/Getty Images

In the grand scheme of things, none of this really matters. Aston Villa are safe, Burnley are relegated.

On the face, there ain’t much reason to pay attention to tomorrow’s league-ending contest at Villa Park.

But, of course, everything changes when you have an FA Cup Final to prepare for.

It’s where a lot of the intrigue for this match comes from, especially as Villa are on the heels of an embarrassing loss at Southampton last weekend. What will Tim Sherwood change? Who might have an opportunity to break into the squad for the showdown at Wembley? Will anyone have to defend their place in the XI?

A quick look at the squad shows a few spots where Sherwood might open up some contests tomorrow.

Will Scott Sinclair or Gabby Agbonlahor be given an opportunity to edge out Charles N’Zogbia ahead of the final?

Could Carlos Sanchez get one more opportunity to prove himself at the bottom of the diamond?

Who will play at left back? Is Kieran Richardson fit, or could Matt Lowton or even Lewis Kinsella be given an opportunity to stake a place in the Wembley lineup?

And then there’s the goalkeeper spot, which is perhaps the most interesting spot out there. Both Brad Guzan and Shay Given haven’t been great lately; which one will get the opportunity to play himself into or out of the FA Cup Final?

As far as the other spots go, barring injury, I think they’re settled. Christian Benteke, Jack Grealish, Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley are all certainly in the squad, while I think Leandro Bacuna has offered enough going forward to make himself a near-lock in a week’s time.

The centre halves might be the only other guys sweating their inclusion, but I just can’t see Nathan Baker or Philippe Senderos doing enough to merit their inclusion in the XI after long layoffs. They may still get the start tomorrow to get some match fitness back in case Jores Okore or Ron Vlaar pick up a knock at Wembley, but I can’t see either of them edging their way into the XI.

The other spot of intrigue, of course, is in the youth.

I’ve already mentioned Kinsella, who I’d love to see get a look-in for 90 minutes at left back, but he’s not the only one pushing for inclusion tomorrow in the season finale. Villa didn’t extend Callum Robinson’s loan move for Preston North End’s League 1 Play-Off Final, so I’d hope he‘s going to at least play a part for the Claret and Blues tomorrow.

Andre Green, who is 17 years old, is the name of the week, while Rushian Hepburn-Murphy could yet return to the Villa fray.

And in the grand scheme of things, playing 30 minutes on the final day won’t mean much in a young player’s development, but it would show a level of trust from Tim Sherwood, one that could help boost the loyalty of Villa’s young stars.

As for the other side, Burnley have Danny Ings, I guess, but haven’t really scored goals all season.

So they’re due to score 5 because that’s how Villa works.

Anyway, it’s a great chance to enjoy a day out at a packed Villa Park. A few million pounds are riding on this result, I guess, but in reality, it’s a meaningless contest leading up to the best day in a hell of a long time for the club.

Let’s have some fun.