Aston Villa will be without six players for Saturday’s meeting with Middlesbrough – Orjan Nyland (achilles), Alan Hutton (knee), Axel Tuanzebe (metatarsal), James Chester (knee), Tommy Elphick (foot), Henri Lansbury (hamstring).
Anwar El Ghazi will return despite being coming off against Nottingham Forest, however. The 23-year-old injured his arm in Villa’s 3-1 win at the City Ground and was a doubt ahead of Saturday’s clash, but Dean Smith confirmed his availability in Friday’s pre-match press conference.
Nyland and Elphick are expected to be out for the season, with the former rupturing his achilles and the latter tearing a ligament in his foot. Hutton is doing light rehabilitation but isn’t close to a return. Tuanzebe and Lansbury could be back in two weeks if their recovery continues without a hitch.
Chester could return to training at the end of the month with a view to playing again in April. In his absence, Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause have formed a formidable defensive partnership that could mean Chester struggles to get his place back in the side.
Villa could move into the top-six with a win. They currently sit eighth in the table with 54 points from 37 games, boasting three consecutive wins against Derby County, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest.