Unai Emery could turn to some of Aston Villa’s young players for the second leg of their Europa Conference League play-off against Hibernian.
With a 5-0 advantage after a dominant performance at Easter Road last week, Thursday’s fixture would ordinarily be the ideal opportunity for Emery to mix things up with his team selection, but a rash of early-season injuries has limited the Spaniard’s options.
Emery was only able to name eight substitutes for Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League win at Burnley, two of those being goalkeepers, and the situation has not eased for the midweek fixture.
Tyrone Mings, Emi Buendia, Philippe Coutinho, Jacob Ramsey, Alex Moreno and Tim Iroegbunam are all out, Emi Martinez and Leander Dendoncker are injury doubts and Nicolo Zaniolo is cup-tied for the match.
While Emery is looking to the transfer market for help – with Villa closing in on a loan deal for Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet – it is Villa’s under-23s who might come into the frame on Thursday.
“We have some players injured but usually during the season we are going to have players injured,” Emery said.
“We have young players in the under-23s and we played with them in the pre-season and we can play with them (again).”
Jaden Philogene was the stand-out performer of those given a chance in pre-season but is reportedly close to joining Hull.
However, the likes of Tommi O’Reilly, Seb Revan, Kadan Young, Travis Patterson and Omari Kellyman also made an impact and could come into the frame.
Hibs make the trip south without a manager, with Lee Johnson having been shown the door after Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to Livingston made it three straight defeats in the Scottish Premiership.
David Gray has been placed in caretaker charge.