Breakthrough starlet benched as Emery pursues bold experiment - Aston Villa predicted XI v Lazio - gallery

Here’s what we expect Aston Villa’s starting lineup to look like against Lazio for Thursday’s pre-season friendly in Walsall.

Aston Villa are in pre-season action for the penultimate time for 2023/24 as they face Italian Serie A outfit Lazio at Bescot Stadium in Walsall on Thursday evening.

Getting a taste of European opposition ahead of the upcoming Europa Conference League campaign, Unai Emery’s side will be eager to build on an impressive run in the USA.

Villa were unbeaten with eight goals scored in three games during the Premier League Summer Series. Two 3-3 thrillers provided plenty of entertainment as players got their much-needed run-outs.

Now, though, with the opening weekend Premier League fixture against Newcastle United fast approaching, it’s likely the Villans will start those expected to be first-team regulars.

Emery experimented with a three-at-the-back formation in the 3-3 draw against Brentford on July 30, with Pau Torres included alongside Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.

This allowed the full-backs to step forward and form a new shape that is rarely seen by Emery-led sides. It went ahead, though, and we think the Spaniard will give it another go.

With all of that in mind, flick through the pages to see the starting lineup we think Villa will go with to face Lazio, as well as brief explanations for each inclusion.