Aston Villa v Stoke – Match preview and team news

Aston Villa looking to extend their three-match unbeaten run in the Premier League by gaining a positive result at home to an in-form Stoke City, who have won their last three league matches to rise from just above the relegation zone to an extremely healthy ninth in the table.

Paul Lambert’s Villa side have only been defeated twice in front of their home supporters so far this season and one of those losses was against league leaders Manchester United.

The Villains are sweating on the fitness of central-defender and captain Ron Vlaar, who has missed the last two matches with a calf injury, while Charles N’Zogbia could also return to the match-day squad after a six-week absence due to knee trouble. Enda Stevens, Richard Dunne, Joe Bennet, Gary Gardner and Stillian Petrov remain long-term absentees for the home side.

Tony Pulis faces some selection issues, particularly after his side’s maiden Premier League victory on the road at West Brom last week. Up front, Peter Crouch may be fit to return after missing the victory at the Hawthorns with a facial injury but he faces a fight for his place from Kenwyne Jones, who impressed in the target-man role last week. Elsewhere, fellow strikers Michael Owen and Cameron Jerome could return from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively, while in-form midfielder Charlie Adam is missing through a one-match suspension.

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