TONY PULIS made just the one enforced change to his Stoke City side as they went in search of a record-equalling fourth Barclays Premier League win at Villa Park.
Pulis rewarded Dean Whitehead for his matchwinning cameo performance at the Hawthorns seven days ago with the place in midfield vacated by the suspended Charlie Adam.
Scottish international Adam was serving a one match ban after collecting his fifth booking during the 1-0 victory over West Brom last weekend, their third win in a week.
City’s manager was, however, boosted by the availability of strikers Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome who took their places among the Potters’ substitutes.
Crouch was fit enough to return wearing a special mouthguard to protect his damaged teeth, while Jerome had shrugged off an ankle problem which forced his late withdrawal at the Hawthorns where he pulled up in the warm-up shortly before the kick-off of the game.
City were looking to make it four wins in a row at Villa Park, having put together a similar sequence of results at the same stage of last season’s Premier League campaign.
Villa were missing a number of key figures, most notably Ron Vlaar, Charles N'Zogbia and Marc Albrighton.
Villa: Guzan, Clark, Baker, Lowton, Lichaj, Holman, Bannan, Westwood, Herd, Agboblahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Ireland, El Ahmadi, Bent, Delph, Weimann, Williams.
City: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Walters, Whitehead, Nzoni, Whelan, Etherington, Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Upson, Kightly, Crouch, Wilkinson, Jerome.
Referee: R. East