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Aston Villa v Stoke preview

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has confirmed that Darren Bent will be in his squad to face Stoke on Saturday, but he is likely to be on the bench.

With the experience of Ron Vlaar (calf) and Richard Dunne (groin) still sidelined, Villa's defensive youngsters will be offered another opportunity to impress against the Potters.

Charles N'Zogbia is also among those currently nursing knocks, with the Frenchman laid low with a knee complaint, and Lambert must decide whether to stick with his ball-players in midfield or look to inject some physicality into his starting XI against a strong Stoke side.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is hopeful striker Peter Crouch will be able to return to action against one of his former employers.

Crouch, who missed last weekend's 1-0 victory at West Brom having lost some teeth in a collision with Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini in the previous match, has had a mouth guard fitted and is being monitored in training, while Pulis is also optimistic forward Cameron Jerome will be fit for selection after an ankle injury kept him out of the Baggies contest.

It remains to be seen whether or not fellow frontman Michael Owen, sidelined for the last few weeks by a hamstring problem, is ready to feature again, and the Potters will definitely be without midfielders Charlie Adam, who serves a one-match suspension, and Rory Delap (hernia), along with defender Marc Wilson (broken leg).