Sunderland Vs Aston Villa: Confirmed Lineups

Nigel Roddis

The team sheets are in as Sunderland look to start 2014 with a crucial win against Aston Villa.

Gus Poyet has rung the changes as expected after a hard fought away trip at the weekend. Ondrej Celustka has come into the defence with Phil Bardsley shifting across to Dossena's slot at left back, whilst goal-scoring substitutes Jack Colback and Steven Fletcher come in for Seb Larsson and Jozy Altidore respectively.

The big news though is the return of Ji Dong-Won, who makes his first appearance for Poyet as he comes into the side instead of Fabio Borini, who took ill at half-time versus Cardiff.

Borini has however been judged fit enough to sit on the bench, where he's joined by Adam Johnson who was also ill for the Cardiff fixture.

With Wes Brown serving the last game in his suspension and John O'Shea still injured, Diakite and Roberge start their third successive match together as Sunderland's centre back pairing.

There's no Marcos Alonso in the match day squad as his registration hasn't happened in time for him to play today.

Sunderland (4-3-3): Vito Mannone; Ondrej Celustka, Modibo Diakite, Valentin Roberge, Phil Bardsley; Ki Sung-Yeung, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback; Ji Dong-won, Steven Fletcher, Emmanuele Giaccherini

Substitutes: Jordan Pickford, Andrea Dossena, Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner, Adam Johnson, Fabio Borini, Jozy Altidore

Meanwhile under-fire boss Paul Lambert has been forced to rush captain Ron Vlaar back after suspension to Ciaran Clark left him with just Nathan Baker as an available centre half.

Also returning after injury is Christian Benteke. Hopefully the Belgian's poor form so far this season will continue this afternoon.

Gabriel Agbonlahor also starts in attack, and will probably be an important player if Aston Villa aim to sit deep and attack on the counter.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Brad Guzan; Matt Lowton, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker, Antonio Luna; Fabian Delph, Ashley Westwood, Leandro Bacuna; Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor

Substitutes: Jed Steer, Janoi Donacien, Jordan Bowery, Karim El Ahmadi, Marc Albrighton, Aleksandar Tonev, Libor Kozak

We'll be covering it live on Twitter, so head on over and follow us @RokerReport, and also check back into our stream for further match reaction later HERE.

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