Belfast Telegraph

Defensive shortage for Sherwood

Alan Hutton will return to the Aston Villa squad for the visit of Swansea after completing his ban but Tim Sherwood remains without skipper Ron Vlaar.

The captain remains sidelined with a calf problem and is out along with Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson (both calf), Nathan Baker (knee) and Aly Cissokho (groin).

Libor Kozak is training with the first team after recovering from a broken leg but is not match fit although Jack Grealish is back from suspension.

Sherwood knows the importance of the clash and has issued a rallying cry to the club's supporters.

He said: "This game is huge.

"The fans are going to be very important for us, especially this weekend. They can't come with the expectancy that we're going to roll teams over. We have to earn the right.

"We are going to need them with us. We want to make it difficult for Swansea - and the fans can help us do that.

"We cry out for them. We need them on Saturday with us to make it a real cup final atmosphere - because let's face it, it is a cup final, it's a pivotal game for us.

"If we can win this one, there is a little bit of breathing space there.

"We're by no means done. But there's that little bit of breathing space going into a long break for international duty.

"We still have a lot of hard work to do."

Swansea manager Garry Monk admits he would swap the compliments being heaped on his team for a win against Villa.

Monk's men produced a stirring first-half performance on Monday night to shake Champions League-chasing Liverpool but failed to take their chances and ended up losing 1-0 to Jordan Henderson's fortuitous winner.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said he had not seen the Premier League's most in-form team "tested like that since Christmas" and Monk later revealed that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and skipper Steven Gerrard also showered praise on Swansea's performance.

"I spoke to Brendan after the game and he said that was the best performance against his side this season, especially during the first 45 minutes, which is a great compliment coming from him," Monk said ahead of Swansea's visit to Villa Park.

"I don't think he was saying it just to be nice. He genuinely meant it.

"I know Steven Gerrard spoke to Jonjo (Shelvey) after the game and he pretty much said the same thing.

"So it is pleasing to see hear that, but therein lies the balancing act.

"You can play well and end up with nothing, or play poorly and end up with all three points.

"It is a fine line and I would rather play well and win games.

"But I'm not worried (about scoring goals) because the standard of performances has been good and we are creating chances.

"Of course, you want to take them, especially against the bigger teams in those periods when you're so dominant.

"You must have something to show for such a good display because these teams will have a period in the game when they come back.

"But we played fantastic and if we keep performing like that we will score goals and pick up more than enough points."

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