Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa (Sun)
- How to follow:
- BBC Radio 5 live, BBC local radio; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website
Relegated Aston Villa start life in the Championship with a trip to last season’s beaten play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Wednesday may have Sam Hutchinson (quad) back after being forced off during the pre-season friendly at Nacional, while Jack Hunt (hamstring) and Marco Matias are ready to return.
Ross McCormack could make his Villa debut after his £12m move from Fulham.
Tommy Elphick, Aaron Tshibola and Pierluigi Gollini may also start too.
While all four of Villa’s new signings are in line for a debut, fit-again Jordan Amavi is also in contention as Villa return to the second tier of English football for the first time since winning promotion under Graham Taylor in May 1988.
But former captain Gabby Agbonlahor, suspended last season for being unfit, is struggling after picking up a knock in the second half of pre-season training, and Scott Sinclair is the subject of a bid from Celtic.
BBC Radio Sheffield’s Jonathan Buchan:
“Last season’s beaten play-off finalists have managed to bring in some key additions since missing out on a return to the top flight back in May and expectations remain high.
“Scotland international striker Steven Fletcher moved to Hillsborough on a free and has started a number of pre-season games alongside Gary Hooper, who scored 13 times for the Owls after joining them last December.
“Watford duo Daniel Pudil, who was on loan last term, and Almen Abdi have both arrived, while Sunderland winger Will Buckley has joined on a season-long loan on the eve of the new campaign.”
BBC WM’s Mark Regan:
“Following a cataclysmic season, this summer has been a remarkable one for Villa. In a few short weeks, the stagnation and gloom has gone. The new owner, new manager and some new players have restored hope.
“They have added a £12m striker in Ross McCormack, along with a new centre-half, goalkeeper and central midfielder – so the spine of the team is revamped.
“The new signings, along with the retention of Jordan Ayew, the potential of Jack Grealish and the emergence of young players like Gary Gardner and Andre Green should give Villa more than enough to compete for promotion. The one thing they need is confidence.”
- Villa have won their last five league meetings with Sheffield Wednesday, the most recent a 1-0 win at Hillsborough in April 2000, when Alan Thompson got the only goal.
- But Wednesday won the last meeting between these sides – a 1-0 League Cup victory in November 2001.
- This will be Villa’s first season opener in the second tier since sharing a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town in 1987.
- The Owls have suffered an opening-day defeat just once in eight seasons, but Villa have won each of their last three opening-day fixtures.
- Last season’s opening day win at Bournemouth was Villa’s last on the road – and they have not gone 19 away league games without a win since August 1976.
- Sheffield Wednesday are unbeaten in their last six games at Hillsborough, during which time they have conceded just two goals.