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Preview: Bristol City vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Pre-Season Friendlies clash between Bristol City and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Bristol City conclude their pre-season campaign with a home friendly against Premier League opposition Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.

The Robins are unbeaten in all five of their friendlies this summer, while Villa are looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss against Stoke City last time out in non-competitive action.

Match preview

Nigel Pearson in charge of Bristol City in March 2021© Reuters

With the Championship season beginning in a week's time, this is Nigel Pearson's final chance to determine his preferred starting XI for the visit of Blackpool on August 7.

Pearson has certainly had plenty of opportunities to experiment ahead of his first full season in charge, with his side already playing five teams so far this summer.

After drawing 0-0 with Celtic and 3-3 with Portsmouth, the Robins saw off MK Dons 3-1 and then beat Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle 4-0 and 1-0 respectively.

Those most recent two matches were played at the same time on Tuesday, with Pearson splitting his squad in half.

As pointed out by Pearson after that Devon double-header, fitness is the most important thing at this stage, and City have no injury concerns to report back.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith on May 16, 2021© Reuters

This visit of Villa will provide a step-up in quality, certainly compared to the four games since taking on Celtic, though the visitors are a week behind in their preparations.

The Villans eased to a 4-0 win over Walsall in their first friendly, a game in which boss Dean Smith missed due to COVID-19 regulations, before losing at Stoke.

Smith, who this week saw assistant John Terry depart the club as he looks to become a manager in his own right, fielded a mix of senior regulars and academy youngsters last week.

Thursday's friendly with Nottingham Forest was called off because of some positive coronavirus cases in the Reds' camp, so Villa have just two more friendlies to play.

Next week's clash with Sevilla will likely see Smith field his strongest XI, but for now it will be a case of giving as many available players some minutes as possible.

Bristol City Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Aston Villa Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • W
  • L

Team News

Jack Grealish warms up for Aston Villa on May 13, 2021© Reuters

City have added midfielders Matty James and Andy King, plus centre-back Rob Atkinson, to their squad during the off-season and have re-signed Nathan Baker.

A new striker is on Pearson's wishlist, but that elusive new signing will not arrive before this friendly against Villa - and possibly not at all as City must first raise funds.

Having named two different sides in midweek, Pearson will look to blend the two teams against Villa. That could mean Nakhi Wells and Andreas Weimann linking up in attack.

Villa are still without star man Jack Grealish following his exertions with England at Euro 2020, but Smith will likely name a fairly strong lineup on Saturday.

That could mean a start for returning full-back Ashley Young, while John McGinn and Conor Hourihane - back at the club after a loan spell with Swansea City - may also feature.

Ezri Konsa, Matt Targett, Jacob Ramsey and Keinan Davis are all pushing for inclusion in the first XI, though expect Smith to make mass changes in the second half once again.

Bristol City possible starting lineup:
Bentley; Vyner, Baker, Kalas, Dasilva; Nagy, King; Palmer, O'Dowda, Weimann; Wells

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Steer; Cash, Konsa, Hause, Young; McGinn, Hourihane; Buendia, Wright, El Ghazi, Watkins

SM words green background

We say: Bristol City 1-1 Aston Villa

Bristol City will be eager to complete an unbeaten pre-season ahead of the new Championship campaign, and they will be backed by supporters inside Ashton Gate on Saturday.

Villa are still a couple of weeks away from the start of their new season, while star man Grealish has yet to link up with the squad, but we can see them claiming a draw here.

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