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What to watch for in Aston Villa vs Cardiff City

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Steve Bruce and Aston Villa look to continue their charge up the table this afternoon with a home game against Neil Warnock's Cardiff City. Still in 15th, a win for Villa can't quite propel them into the play-off places but it can certainly put them within touching distance. Here's a few things to look out for:

Battle of the veterans

Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock have both been parachuted into struggling Championship sides, with Warnock joining Cardiff in October and winning three out of his six games in charge. Bruce joined Villa in October - and has led his side to three victories since then.

Both are league veterans, Warnock having managed twelve clubs, Bruce eight in his career, sharing Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace between them. Warnock has seven promotions in his career, Bruce has four - although all of Bruce's were taking sides to the Premier League while Warnock twice took sides to the Premier League, and twice to the old Division One.

Warnock reportedly would have liked the Villa job in the summer telling BBC Wales:

With Steve and myself you get what you see. I was disappointed I did not get a chance with Villa in the summer if I'm honest, because I thought it would have been ideal to sort everything out.

That is why I am not surprised at all Steve has gone in and done really well. I am not saying we are similar types, but we have the same philosophies regarding management.

Villa's new assistant manager

Villa have now officially poached Colin Calderwood from last week's opponents Brighton & Hove Albion. It will be the first time he's worked with Bruce, after a long professional association with Chris Hughton. He's apparently begun taking coaching sessions with the side, so it will be the first chance to see some of the results on the field.

Calderwood was briefly a Villa player in 1999-2000 under John Gregory, so Villa Park should be a familiar venue. A former defender, the assistant manager's first point focus may be on the back four where Nathan Baker and James Chester are forming a promising partnership.

The return of Jack Grealish and the disappearance of Gabby Agbonlahor?

Bruce revealed during the week that Gabby has picked up an ankle injury and was unable to train on Wednesday, along with Ross McCormack. That may open a space for Grealish to come back into the starting line-up after an impressive substitute appearance against Brighton.

The obvious solution would be to put Grealish out left and push Jonathan Kodjia up front, but Bruce may not want to move Kodjia from out left where he has put in a number of good performances.

Another option would be to put Grealish behind Rudy Gestede and maybe even find space for Jordan Ayew out right, for an ultra-attacking line-up.

Kieran Richardson!

Yes, every Villa fan's favourite left-back, winger, striker and whatever else you need, now plays for Cardiff City, having been brought in by Warnock. He's made three appearances so far, so there's every chance the Villa Park faithful will get to reminisce about all those wonderful performances he had in a Claret and Blue shirt. Or not.