Alex McLeish's men enter a crucial period of the season, just six points above the drop zone, with work still to be done if they are to avoid the drop.
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 its shoulder at the Premier League relegation zone.
Villa finds itself six points clear of third bottom Bolton Wandererers and still a little nervous about its top-flight status for next season.
Stephen Warnock and Fabian Delph are still touch-and-go to start this game, but Ciaran Clark should be back in the starting XI.
Sunderland's blistering run, which coincided with the arrival of Martin O'Neill, has gained sufficient points to avoid any relegation fears and its remaining games give it the chance to finish the season on a high note.
Captain Lee Cattermole and John O'Shea are unlikely to start which means Wayne Bridge could make a return to the starting lineup.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Sunderland is without an away win in the Premier League since beating Stoke City on Feb. 4.
- The Black Cats enter this game still with a shot of a top 10 finish in the league.
- Stephane Sessegnon scored an 89th minute equalizer 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 while on-loan from Manchester United.
- O'Neill's side has two wins and two draws in its last four games against Villa.
- Aston Villa has been on a dreadful run of late. It has won only twice in 13 games stretching back to the end of January
- This game marks the first return to Villa Park for Martin O'Neill (pictured right) since he left his post as Villa manager in August 2010.
- Villa follows up this game with a critical encounter against Bolton which could go a long way to ensuring safety.