Aston Villa are expected to make one change for Everton’s trip to Birmingham on Friday night, with the Daily Star suggesting Dean Smith will bench Anwar El Ghazi.
The two-time Netherlands international has featured in each of the Villains opening games back in the Premier League, but left many underwhelmed by his efforts in Claret and Blue against Tottenham Hotspur and again at home to AFC Bournemouth last weekend.
Before Smith hauled the 24-year-old off the field in his side’s defeat to the Cherries, El Ghazi once again failed to create a key pass for one of his teammates, failed to record a successful dribble, was dispossessed for the fourth time this season, and failed to find the target with any of his three shots on goal.
In place of the £30,962-a-week winger, it is suggested one of Villa’s twelve summer signings will take his spot, with former Birmingham City star Jota tipped for his first start in Claret and Blue having stepped across the inner-city divide at the expense of a reported £4million in June.
The Spaniard featured off the bench in both of Villa’s defeats thus far for a total of 47 minutes of top-flight action, in which he has taken one shot, played a key ball, and won his only aerial duel.
Jota’s inclusion is expected to be the only change for Smith from the side that lost to Bournemouth, with the Villains head coach able to boast no new injury concerns.
Smith will likely be without Jonathan Kodjia, though, as the centre-forward is not expected to be fit following an ankle sprain sustained against Tottenham.