Aston Villa are off to Austria for training camp, and they’ll do so with Stiliyan Petrov on board.
Roberto Di Matteo announced the 24-man squad heading on the tour, with the team set to depart today and play a friendly training match against GAK Graz on Saturday.
The positional breakdown of the squad is below, but it’s a pretty straightforward one: Of Villa’s 28 first-team players, 23 (plus Petrov) are on the plane to Austria, while three (Ciaran Clark, Brad Guzan and Carlos Sánchez) are still off from international duty. The other two, Jordan Lyden and Adama Traoré, have missed out through injury.
Goalkeepers: Mark Bunn, Jed Steer
Defenders: Jordan Amavi, Leandro Bacuna, Nathan Baker, Joe Bennett, Aly Cissokho, Tommy Elphick, Alan Hutton, Joleon Lescott, Jores Okore, Micah Richards
Midfielders: Gary Gardner, Carles Gil, Jack Grealish, Idrissa Gueye, Stiliyan Petrov, Jordan Veretout, Ashley Westwood
Forwards: Gabby Agbonlahor, Jordan Ayew, Rudy Gestede, Libor Kozák, Scott Sinclair
Villa fans will take note, however, of Amavi’s inclusion — the defender is working his way back from injury — while it will be interesting to see who features Saturday for the Claret and Blues. Will it be young guys like Gardner and Grealish or the elders like Lescott and Agbonlahor?
But Petrov’s inclusion in the traveling crew is the best indication yet he might actually make this whole first-team football thing happen again. There’s still four weeks left until the season gets underway, but every week he’s still around, it’s one step closer to that return.
Perhaps the true thing to note about the squad is who isn’t there — and no, not Adama or Guzan, rather the complete absence of youth players. Does this mean they won’t factor into the squad? No. But it may mean Di Matteo hasn’t yet seen a standout player from the crew, one worth pulling out of the youth-specific training plan for the Austria trip.