West Brom v Aston Villa preview
Midlands rivals go head-to-head in big derby clash
Last Updated: April 29, 2011 12:17pm
Houllier: Aston Villa boss has been released from hospital after heart scare
West Brom will be looking to take advantage of the sombre mood around neighbours Aston Villa and get back to winning ways.
Under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, the Baggies have extinguished the fear of relegation and have moved into a healthy mid-table spot.
Their revival was checked by defeat against Chelsea but they bounced back to earn a draw against Tottenham in their last outing.
History, however, is against the Baggies who have not beaten Villa in 26 years but with Midlands bragging rights at stake, that could be the incentive they require.
A win for Hodgson's team would enable them to leapfrog Villa in the table as they look to cement their safety.
And they will be buoyed by the fact that they have lost in just one of their last nine Premier League outings.
Gerard Houllier was released from hospital on Thursday evening having spending the last eight days undergoing tests after complaining of chest pains.
The former Liverpool manager underwent heart surgery while he was in charge at Anfield and there are now concerns over his long-term health.
Gary McAllister has been handed the reins on a caretaker basis and will be heartened by the form of record signing Darren Bent.
Bent has scored five goals in his last six Premier League matches and should help Villa maintain their seven-point cushion between them and the relegation zone.
But their porous defence will surely concern McAllister. They have kept just two clean sheets in their last 24 Premier League matches and none in their last 18 away from home.
Steven Reid is battling to be fit after suffering a calf injury in the draw against Tottenham and is responding positively to treatment.
Goalkeeper Scott Carson also picked up a thigh injury in that game but he too is expected to shake it off to line up against his former team.
Graham Dorrans, though, remains sidelined with an ankle injury but he has returned to outdoor training and they are renewed hopes he will play before the end of the term.
Jerome Thomas picked up a slight knock against Spurs, but again he is expected to line up for the Baggies.
Villa have no fresh injury worries ahead of the derby and will be boosted by the return of their diminutive playmaker Barry Bannan.
Bannan has been recalled from a loan spell at Leeds as Villa try and use his undoubted quality in their final four matches of the season.
Possible Starting XIs:
West Brom: Carson, Reid, Meite, Olsson, Shorey, Thomas, Scharner, Mulumbu, Morrison, Brunt, Odemwingie.
Aston Villa: Friedel, L Young, Dunne, Collins, Walker, Downing, Petrov, Reo-Coker, A Young, Agbonlahor, Bent.
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