Dean Smith revealed in Thursday’s pre-match press conference that Tom Carroll is “back on the grass” but won’t feature against Stoke City on Saturday, saying the weekend fixture has come “too soon” for the Aston Villa midfielder. He’s expected to return in time to face Derby County on March 2, however.
Carroll has been out of action since early February with a muscle strain. The 26-year-old has only made one appearance since joining on loan from Swansea City, missing games against Sheffield United, Brentford and West Bromwich Albion due to his injury.
Smith said: “Tom’s back on the grass but Saturday will come too soon for him. He should be ready for Derby.” Carroll’s absence will be a blow for Villa as they’re already missing John McGinn through suspension. Smith has the likes of Mile Jedinak and Birkir Bjarnason to call upon, but they may be short of match fitness due to a lack of playing time in recent weeks.
There’s been no word on Henri Lansbury either. He’s still recovering from injury and can’t be called upon while the club suffer a minor injury crisis in midfield. Villa’s starting eleven against Stoke could have a makeshift look about it, but they can’t afford any more dropped points if they are to finish in the top-six this season.