Aston Villa v Stoke: Early team news and no excuses

Stoke are doing well this season. But they are a decent hard working side with some decent hard working players. That isn't an excuse for not getting three points though, because we need three points today.

We need those points if only to not get dragged into the relegation zone again come 5pm today and whatever way you want to look at it, that is a possibility, if we lose.

But again, that isn't another excuse for only getting one point. We need all three and three is what we are going to get. It's only Stoke and when we win today there is absolutely every chance we will remain fifteenth, but we will only be five points behind them.

And then we'll have some talking about European football next season. And I'll be part of that feeling for a few minutes, but before we get to the football, a round up of some news and speculation this week.

Bent available, Vlaar isn't

Ron Vlaar is still not available for the match this weekend but it turns out that N'Zogbia might be. Some others are still out and the players the manager has to pick from include Guzan, Given, Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj, Baker, Ireland, El Ahmadi, Herd, Westwood, Bannan, Delph, Holman, Bent, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Bowery, Weimann, Burke, Johnson, Williams and N'Zogbia.

Bent is in that list of players that he can pick from but talk is any manager with £18mn can also pick him too. It does seem a little strange asking £18mn for a player that a. cant make the starting team, b. the manager doesn't have a problem with and c. a player that is desperate to play.

Aston Villa v Stoke

So, that leaves us the match and it's a 3pm kick off so plenty of time for a beer or two before kick off and time after for some, hopefully, happy beers too.

Updates and team news here, the usual suspects and quite probably a few links getting dropped. Me, I'll be back a couple of hours before kick off, with a beer in hand and team news.