Smith makes 5 changes, Grealish to start: Predicted Aston Villa XI to face Leicester – opinion

Dean Smith has a dilemma on his hands ahead of Aston Villa’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Leicester City.

He will need to pick a strong enough side to ensure that they can be competitive with the Foxes, while he will also likely hope to protect what is already a depleted squad.

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The winter period brings a hectic fixture schedule, meaning that the Villa manager could make various changes despite his hopes of reaching the final of a major tournament.

With this in mind, FFC has predicted the XI that will be deployed, which features five changes from the FA Cup loss against Fulham.

Orjan Nyland has come in as Villa’s main goalkeeper during Tom Heaton’s absence and could be set to play in this game, having put in a highly impressive performance in the quarter-final against Liverpool.

Frederic Guilbert, Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause all come into the side having been confined to the bench at Craven Cottage. Tyrone Mings has been left out of this one, as Smith may be tempted to save him for the Manchester City game on Sunday.

He was poor against Fulham, but Neil Taylor remains in the starting lineup, with Smith having stated that Matt Targett should be back to play against Man City.

Marvelous Nakamba was slammed by Villa fans for his performance on Saturday, and he may have surrendered his place in the team, with Douglas Luiz coming in to replace him.

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It would be very harsh for Conor Hourihane or Henri Lansbury to be left out, considering how integral they have been to Villa’s Carabao Cup campaign. The former has four goals from his four appearances in the competition, while the latter has recorded five assists from three.

Jota has also made a contribution to the current progress, getting one goal and another assist. Having also played the ball through that led to Villa’s only goal against Fulham, he keeps his place in the team.

Jack Grealish was completely left out of the side to face Fulham, not even making the bench, though with the potential of reaching a cup final, Smith will surely be tempted to use his talisman.

Jonathan Kodjia came on as a substitute against Burnley and then played the whole game against Fulham. Therefore, Smith may want to rest him for the Man City game, but there are very few options at his disposal in this position, meaning he could end up sticking with the Ivory Coast international.

Meanwhile, Villa fans have been fuming over transfer links with a Premier League fringe player.

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