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Carabao Cup preview: Aston Villa battle Middlesbrough in the League Cup third round

After a mid-week scoreless draw last week — two familiar foes face off in cup clash.

Aston Villa v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images,

The match logistics

  • Kickoff is Tuesday, September 19 at 7.45pm.
  • No television coverage or video stream through AVTV.
  • Audio stream available through AVTV
  • Villa have beaten Colchester and Wigan to advance to the third round.

What a difference one win makes. Last week’s mid-week clash between Middlesbrough and Villa was dubbed as a potential last chance saloon for under-pressure manager Steve Bruce. This week — the match is about building on momentum coming off Villa’s second league win and allowing some fresh faces some time on the pitch.

Steve Bruce in his post-Barnsley match comments hinted at some rotation -- calling the Carabao/League Cup a chance for younger players to shine and for bench players to get a game (Bruce specifically mentioned one Tommy Elphick, remember him?).

In previous cup ties — Bruce has done a good job mixing the bench and youth players. Jed Steer will keep his spot in the net. The defense will likely be made of some combination of James Bree (started in midfield versus Wigan), Richie De Laet, Samba, Birkir Bjarnason (who started at LB in the Wigan Cup tie), Mitch Clark and the aforementioned Tommy Elphick. I’d expect John Terry and James Chester to be given the day off.

The midfield selection will be interesting because Callum O’Hare has impressed in his limited chances and has earned another spot in the Cup starting lineup. Henri Lansbury found himself dropped from the starting lineup Saturday and might want a chance at retribution after his dumb red card versus Middlesbrough last week (Aston Villa appealed the suspension and won). Josh Onomah is in contention as well after recovering from an injury enough to be subbed on. No word on Mile Jedinak’s seemingly never ending groin issue.

Up front it will be Bruce’s choice — rotation or momentum. Adomah and Davis should be at the top of the list based on their performances — but Bruce may want to save those two for upcoming League matches. Hogan ran his boots off after coming on in the second half and seemed desperate for a goal. If Kodjia feels ok after 60 minutes — he could be try to see out his first full match back from injury.

In the end — the Carabao/League Cup is a chance for a different look Villa squad to go out and compete for a place in the League matches. A cup run would be fun — so hopefully whatever team Steve Bruce puts out at Villa park comes out firing... unlike the last time the two teams met.