Aston Villa injury update: Benteke and Vlaar feature

Manager Tim Sherwood has provided fitness updates on the ailing members of his squad ahead of the trip to Sunderland.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has told the club’s official website of his hope that Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar will be fit for the weekend’s trip to Sunderland.

Benteke missed the 2-0 FA Cup win over West Bromwich Albion after suffering a hip problem in training but has since improved and should be in the squad, Sherwood said.

The Belgian striker will require a late fitness test prior to the match, however, along with captain Ron Vlaar, who is still struggling with the same nagging calf issue which has kept him out for the past two games.

It’s been a frustrating season for the Dutchman, having seen various injuries restrict him to just 14 appearances, but Sherwood believes both he and Benteke could feature in some capacity at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

"We are waiting on Christian,” he said. "He'll be one to possibly come back and maybe Ron too. Apart from that we are as we were.

"Christian felt something in his hip area. He's been having treatment on it. We are looking forward to bringing him back in but it will be a late shout.

"We will give him as much time as we possibly can to get himself fit.”

With Alan Hutton suspended, after picking up his 10th booking of the season in the first West Brom encounter, and Nathan Baker and Philippe Senderos still unavailable, Sherwood remains bereft of defensive options.

Left-backs Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson are also doubtful to return after three games out, but the Villa boss has been impressed with how the likes of Matthew Lowton and Leandro Bacuna have deputised in recent weeks.

"We're struggling a bit with defensive options,” he added. "Ron will be a last minute shout. He's still struggling with that calf.

"We don't have too many options in defence but the ones who came in did well. I thought Leo did very well. Matt looks like he's been playing left-back all his career."

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