Despite impressing in the last couple of fixtures, Leandro Bacuna was left out of the squad against Birmingham City. Steve Bruce later announced that the Curaçaoan utility man suffered a groin injury in training ahead of the derby, which led to him sitting out.
Post match, the news went from bad to worse as Bruce revealed that Bacuna will miss the next three weeks through the injury. In addition, Albert Adomah was forced off early against Birmingham City after colliding with City keeper Tomasz Kuszczak in the first half. Early indication is that Adomah suffered a "horrible dead leg", which may too force him out of the next game.
Luckily, after this Saturday's game against Blackburn Rovers, Villa don't play again until November 18th due to an international break, which means Villa will probably only be without the duo for one game. It does present one problem though, who starts out right for Villa against Blackburn? Check out the options:
3. Ross McCormack
When Albert Adomah went off injured, Ross McCormack was the man to replace him, putting in a decent shift for just over an hour. Unfortunately though, he was rarely involved in the game, which goes to show that the Scotsman is wasted out on the right wing.
In fairness to McCormack, he wasn't signed to play out right, so it isn't really a surprise that he failed to make an impact there. Really, he should be sitting behind the frontman, which of course doesn't work in the 4-3-3 formation that Steve Bruce has been employing. To further complicate matters, I don't think that Aston Villa can play with two strikers until January, as the lack of an extra man in midfield has proven to be catastrophic for Villa too many times this season. For now, McCormack is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and though he was competent on the right wing, he is the worst of the three options we have.
2. Jonathan Kodjia
Jonathan Kodjia might be the obvious choice, given that this is the position in which he started against Fulham. But in that game, it wasn't until Albert Adomah replaced Rudy Gestede and Kodjia moved central that Aston Villa started looking like a serious threat.
It would do no harm to move Kodjia to the right and recall Gestede (or heaven forbid, Gabby) to the centre, but it is largely an uninspired choice. There is some merit to it, I guess though. Kodjia is a battering ram, and he would cause problems for the Blackburn left back all afternoon, but only providing that Villa can get him into the game. Playing Kodjia here allows Gestede to play against his former side, the side in which he scored 32 goals in two seasons. Sadly, we haven't seen enough of that Gestede at Villa for this to be the regular, viable option. But it is perfectly serviceable, which might do.
1. Jordan Ayew
Hear me out on this one. Start Andre Green down the left, and move Jordan Ayew to the right. In a perfect world, Jack Grealish would be playing down the left, but as he still has one game left on his suspension, Andre Green could be the unknown quantity that baffles the Blackburn defence. Alternatively, recall Aly Cissokho to LB, and play Jordan Amavi as a left winger.
Though not a natural right winger, Jordan Ayew could actually be pretty effective there. True, he played out there against Bournemouth and Manchester United last summer and was pretty poor, but the entire side was pretty trash back then, and thus it might be worth considering it.
The single most frustrating thing about Jordan Ayew is his insistence on cutting inside onto his right foot. Play him out on the right, and he will be able to take the ball to the byline or take on his man. For the benefit of the whole team, this might be a better option, as Ayew cutting inside tends to congest the area around the penalty box. It's certainly a risk worth taking. Even if it doesn't work out, it wouldn't be difficult to revert to Kodjia out right, so it's totally worth a shot.
Agree with any of my suggestions, or have a better idea? Let us know in the comments below!