Alex McLeish's men enter a crucial period of the season, just six points above the relegation zone, with work still to be done if they are to avoid the drop to the Championship
Hutton, Collins, Clark, Lichaj
Agbonlahor, Ireland, Bannan, Gardner
Bardsley, Turner, Kilgallon, Bridge
Larsson, Gardner, Sessegnon, Richardson
With a storm brewing for Alex McLeish regarding his immediate future with the second-city club, Aston Villa go into this game still looking over their shoulder at the Premier League relegation zone.
Stephen Warnock and Fabian Delph are still touch-and-go to start this game, but Ciaran Clark should be back in the starting XI.
For Sunderland, captain Lee Cattermole and John O'Shea are unlikely to start, which means that Wayne Bridge could make a return to the starting line-up.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Aston Villa have been on a dreadful run of late. They have won only twice in 13 games stretching back to the end of January.
- This game marks the first return to Villa Park for visiting boss Martin O'Neill (pictured right) since he left his post as Villa manager in August 2010.
- Villa currently find themselves six points clear of third-from-bottom Bolton - and follow this game up with a critical encounter against Wanderers.
- Sunderland are without an away win in the Premier League since they beat Stoke City on February 4.
- Stephane Sessegnon scored an 89th-minute equaliser in the sides' meeting in October, as Villa twice lost the lead in a 2-2 draw.
- Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley scored the winner in last season's 1-0 win at Villa Park, and has previously played for the Villans whilst on-loan from Manchester United.