Paolo Di Canio

Boss on Villa test

by Ashley Houghton

Di Canio expecting difficult night's work.

Sunderland AFC head coach Paolo Di Canio believes Monday’s game with Aston Villa will be a difficult one as the Black Cats look to extend their winning run to three.

Di Canio’s side travel to Villa looking to maintain a good recent record at Villa Park; the Wearside outfit have lost just once in their last five visits.

And, Di Canio, who narrowly lost out at Villa with Swindon in the Capital One Cup, expects a similarly tough game this time round.

“[They’re] two different games, that was in the cup nearly at the beginning of the season, it can help me but we check many games that they have played, because they are closer to the games that we are going to play,” Di Canio explained.

“It’s obvious that it is an average season for them, I don’t know why, they have many important players but they’re struggling at the bottom, like us."

The Italian confirmed that Phil Bardsley is fit to return to the squad while he is also boosted by the return of former Villa man Craig Gardner after the midfielder missed the last two matches through suspension.

He did, however, confirm that Connor Wickham remains sidelined.

“Everything is OK, [we have] two players back, Craig [Gardner] is back from suspension and Phil [Bardsley] is OK so gradually more players are available to be selected.

“Everybody wants to be part of the group because winning is a good medicine."