Wednesday media watch [18.06.14 AM]: Fixtures in focus
Sky Sports: Aston Villa will begin their 2014-15 Premier League campaign with a trip up the M6 to face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on August 16. Paul Lambert's side face a testing period between September and October, facing Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in consecutive weeks. Ahead of the hectic Christmas period which will see Villa play four times in 12 days, they travel to The Hawthorns for a Black Country derby against West Bromwich Albion. The festive period begins at Villa Park on December 20 with Louis van Gaal's Manchester United the guests, before a Boxing Day trip to face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. Two days later the Villains will be back in Birmingham for a clash with Sunderland, before Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace make the trip north for a New Year's Day showdown. The season run-in sees Villa host West Ham United at Villa Park and travel to face Southampton before taking on newly-promoted Burnley in the Midlands on the final day of the season.
Birmingham Mail: Aston Villa will start their new season with an away trip to Midlands rivals Stoke City on August 16. The trip to the Britannia Stadium will kick-start their 2014/15 campaign before home games against Newcastle United and Hull City follow. Unlike last season it's a fairly kind opening to the term for the claret and blues however the tough clashes are not far away. In September Villa face Liverpool (a), Arsenal (h), Chelsea (a) and Manchester City (h) in a gruelling month against the top four. The first local derby with Albion is at The Hawthorns on December 13 with the return clash at Villa Park on March 3. On Boxing Day Villa travel to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea and they will entertain Crystal Palace on New Year's Day. Villa's run-in is also relatively comfortable with three of their last four games at home. Encounters against Everton and West Ham will be followed by a visit to Southampton for the final away-day of the year. The season ends with a home clash against newly-promoted Burnley on the final day.
Birmingham Mail: Ron Vlaar's march into the World Cup shop window could shatter Villa's prospects of keeping their captain on a long-term contract. That is the fear of former Villa defender Derek Mountfield after Vlaar's storming start to Brazil 2014 with Holland last week. Mountfield was at Villa when David Platt became an overnight sensation with England at Italia 90 and left to join Bari a year later. Vlaar impressed in the Netherlands 5-1 win over champions Spain last Friday and is in Group B action again against Australia tonight.Mountfield admits the way Vlaar nullified Chelsea target Diego Costa will have alerted suitors to the 29-year-old centre-half.Vlaar jetted off to Brazil with just one year left on his current deal because of the uncertainty surrounding Villa's future.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Raheem Sterling insists he is happy to switch positions to accommodate Wayne Rooney if it helps keep England's World Cup ambitions alive. Sterling, 19, played behind Daniel Sturridge in the 2-1 defeat by Italy and earned praised for his performance.
Sky Sports: Former Forest Green boss David Hockaday is expected to be named Leeds United head coach on Wednesday, according to Sky sources. United owner Massimo Cellino said earlier this month that the club's next boss would be British and he looks to have plumped for Hockaday, who spent four years with Rovers.
BBC Sport: West Bromwich Albion head coach Alan Irvine has the coaching credentials to succeed at The Hawthorns, says Baggies technical director Terry Burton. Burton was one of the men who appointed the 55-year-old former Preston manager.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.