So far in the 2015-16 season, Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has used 16 different players. Three games in, just three points have been won and the club are sitting in 14th. Early into the campaign, it's clear that team chemistry is still lacking, which is to be expected. But, that should improve as the weeks go by.
Next up is Notts County, currently 16th in League Two, England's fourth tier. If you're unfamiliar with the Magpies, they're the club that Jack Grealish helped save from relegation two years ago. They're also the oldest team in the world to play at a professional level. Last season, without Grealish, they weren't lucky enough to stave off relegation and dropped from League One. Theoretically, they shouldn't be too much of a challenge, but also won't be pushovers.
Notts County have taken just four points from four matches this season, but Ricardo Moniz's side weren't viewed as relegation candidates having just dropped. However, the early form will be concerning for supporters of the Magpies. They have another Villa connection this season, with former youth teamer Graham Burke playing in white and black now. He's played in three of their four games as a striker in the 4-4-2 formation, scoring one goal.
Defensively, it's easy to see that Sherwood has attempted to improve continuity from last season, which was a big weakness at times. The same backline - Leandro Bacuna, Micah Richards, Ciaran Clark and Jordan Amavi - have started all three matches. Kieran Richardson had a cameo, but we've yet to see Nathan Baker, Joe Bennett, Alan Hutton, Jores Okore and Jose Crespo. Some of these decisions have been made for Sherwood due to injury, but many fans have been calling for Hutton to replace Bacuna at right back. He may get that chance against Notts County.
Carlos Sánchez put in a very strong performance on Saturday before being substituted off in the defeat against Crystal Palace. The pairing of Ashley Westwood and Idrissa Gana worked well ahead of Sánchez and behind Grealish, even if the formation wasn't extremely effective. Jordan Veretout is still integrating into the team, and this match offers a chance for him to gain some familiarity with his still new-ish teammates. Will this be the one-game-per-two-months that we see Joe Cole? Possibly, although Carles Gil should probably get the chance to dictate play from the number ten role.
Against lower-league opposition, it's generally good practice to play a large, physical striker. Since Rudy Gestede got the start in the last match, which was just three days before this fixture, why not give Libor Kozák the chance to lead the line? Another guy who deserves a start is Adama Traoré. When he was introduced on Saturday against Palace, it was hard to know what to expect from the 19-year-old. But after just one run where he showcased his blistering pace, everyone watching the match saw that he's a special player and not just one for the future. Since his debut was brief, Traoré should be fresh enough to start in this League Cup match.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Mark Bunn; Alan Hutton, Nathan Baker, Ciaran Clark, Joe Bennett; Jordan Veretout, Carlos Sánchez, Carles Gil; Adama Traoré, Libor Kozák, Jordan Ayew.
Notts County (4-4-2): Roy Carroll; Gill Swerts, Mawouna Amevor, Theirry Audel, Elliott Hewitt; Genaro Sneijders, Liam Noble, Stanley Aborah, Jon Stead; Adam Campbell, Graham Burke.
Who do you think Tim Sherwood will start in this fixture? Will Notts County provide a good opportunity for the Villans to build some confidence? Let us know in the comments!
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