Aston Villa will be keen to avoid another surprise early exit from the League Cup when they host fourth-tier Notts County in the second round.
Last season, the Premier League outfit were dumped out at this stage by Leyton Orient, who triumphed at Villa Park thanks to Romain Vincelot’s late winner.
County sprung a shock of their own in progressing from the first round earlier this month, coming from behind to defeat Championship side Huddersfield Town 2-1, thanks to a brace from Liam Noble.
After relegation from the third tier last season, County have won one of their opening four matches of the new league campaign but have boosted their ranks with the arrival of striker Izale McLeod from Crawley Town.
“Obviously we still have a few issues with the team which we’re addressing,” said chairman Ray Trew. “Ricardo [Moniz, manager] wants a proven goal scorer and we’ve got that for this level.
“At Huddersfield we played exceptionally well but we’re always searching for players who are going to improve the playing squad.”
Villa, meanwhile, have suffered successive league defeats to Manchester United and Crystal Palace after the opening-day win at Bournemouth.
Tim Sherwood welcomed back enigmatic midfielder Jack Grealish – following a hamstring problem – for the loss at Palace, and captain Micah Richards is pleased to see his team-mate back in action.
“The way Jack receives the ball and can take on players is something really special,” he said. “I’ve not seen many players of that age being able to do that and look so comfortable with a football.
“He’s a talented player and will only improve with time. He’s got a big future. Hopefully we can keep him fit now.
“He had little hamstring issues earlier in pre-season but he’s over that now and we’re looking to see much more of him as the season continues.”
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