Here’s the Hull manager Nigel Adkins, ever more resembling an over-enthusiastic rep on a coach holiday.
“We’re looking forward to it! We’ve got a new team now, we need to work extremely hard, but we’ve done that so far. It’s going to be a challenge, and it will be tonight. We’ve got an opportunity to do really well this season, although we have a bit of work to do in the transfer market.”
Four summer signings make their competitive debuts tonight – defenders Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs and Eric Lichaj, plus Todd Kane, nominally a defender too, but set for a midfield berth this evening.
Hull City: Marshall; Lichaj, De Wijs, Burke, Kingsley; Kane, Batty, Henriksen, Bowen; Evandro; Campbell.
Subs: Stewart, Dicko, Milinkovic, Long, MacDonald, Irvine, Keane.
Aston Villa: Steer; Chester, Elphick, Hutton; Elmohamady, Whelan, Hourihane, Taylor; Grealish, Adomah, Kodjia.
Subs: Lansbury, Bree, Green, Bjarnason, Gardner, Hepburn-Murphy, Bunn.
Referee: Andrew Madley
This summer, Aston Villa have learned how it feels to lose the highest-stakes game of all. While Fulham, 1-0 winners at Wembley ten weeks ago, have set about gambling £75m on Premier League survival, Villa’s house of cards collapsed as soon as the final whistle blew.
New investment appears to have eased those nagging relegation worries, and the club are even spending money again – Bristol City’s Joe Bryan looks set to join for £6m. John Terry has gone but Jack Grealish, James Chester and manager Steve Bruce are, like the sunburnt doctor from Love Island, unexpectedly still at the Villa.
Villa are available at 14-1 to win the Championship or to be relegated, such is the rampant uncertainty around them and so many others in this division. Hull City are tipped to finish closer to the bottom than the top, having lost several first-teamers and replaced them with a hotch-potch of budget signings – but who knows any more?
Tonight’s hosts finished 18th in last year’s haphazard campaign under Leonid Slutsky and Nigel Adkins – but scored 70 goals, just two less than fourth-placed Villa. The trouble was, they let in 70 as well. As is so often the case in the second tier, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Kick-off is at 7.45pm, BST.
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