Wolves v Aston Villa preview
Wolves and Aston Villa embark on their first Midlands derby of the season when they lock horns at Molineux.
Last Updated: 24/09/10 4:21pm
Wolves and Aston Villa embark on their first Midlands derby of the season when they lock horns at Molineux on Sunday.
Neither side has got going yet this season and both Mick McCarthy and Gerard Houllier will be hoping three points can really kick-start their respective Premier League campaigns.
Villa manager Houllier's first game in charge of his new side ended in a 3-1 victory over Blackburn in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, but they have not won in the league since August.
The French tactician has called for patience at Villa Park as he looks to make his mark on the club, but the nature of top-flight football will no doubt mean that if results start slowly, the pressure will follow.
It will be all the more difficult a task as a number of Villa fans seem unconvinced that Houllier is the man to lead them forward, and with upcoming games against Tottenham, Chelsea and a derby with Birmingham, a win at Molineux would lighten the load as he tries to settle in.
But Wolves at home are no pushovers having won three of four on their own turf so far this term, and McCarthy knows his side have the potential to beat almost any opponent on their day.
The forthright coach will be aware, though, that his team needs to learn how to hold onto a lead after twice surrendering an advantage to lose their last two matches.
Wolves took the lead at Tottenham last weekend through Steven Fletcher, but ended up losing the clash 3-1 in North London.
It was a case of déjà-vu for McCarthy as the week before at Fulham Jelle Van Damme opened the scoring only for the Cottagers to mount a comeback and earn a 2-1 triumph on the banks of the Thames.
Van Damme is a doubt this time around for Wolves, but could be available for what is expected to be a fiery encounter.
David Edwards could feature for the home side while Matt Jarvis also makes it despite suffering a groin injury last weekend.
McCarthy will recall a number of senior players after he rested them for the midweek victory over Notts County in the Carling Cup, but Stephen Hunt is still out with a foot problem.
They will be boosted by the return of defender Christophe Berra though, as the Scotsman comes back from suspension.
Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor faces a late fitness test after coming off injured against Blackburn on Wednesday.
Midfielder Stephen Ireland will also be assessed before the game, while John Carew could return to the fold after missing the clash with Bolton last weekend.
Stewart Downing returns after being rested to protect a gashed shin, but Richard Dunne is unlikely to recover from a knee injury in time.
Possible starting XIs:
Wolves: Hahnemann, Craddock, Mancienne, Foley, Berra, Henry, Jones, Jarvis, Ward, Fletcher, Doyle.
Aston Villa: Friedel, L Young, Collins, Cuellar, Warnock, Petrov, Downing, Ireland, A Young, Agbonlahor, Heskey.