Friday media watch [15.08.14 AM]: Defenders discussed
Birmingham Mail: Ron Vlaar will start for Villa tomorrow after proving he has no lingering hangover from the World Cup. The club captain has only trained for the past fortnight but boss Paul Lambert has seen no signs of him struggling to be fit for the game at Stoke. Vlaar got 45 minutes under his belt in the final pre-season friendly against Parma last weekend and is ready to lead out his side. Formal talks over a new contract have not yet taken place-and the pursuit of Carlos Sanchez is ongoing-but the news Vlaar is fit to start is a boost for Villa ahead of their Premier League opener.
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert insists there are no hard feelings amongst his Aston Villa outcasts. Lambert pledged a clean slate this summer and Alan Hutton is poised for a first competitive start under his fellow Scot. After taking charge two years ago amid financial cuts, Lambert froze out several big-earning stars. Right-back Hutton was axed but he and fit-again Charles N'Zogbia are likely to play at Stoke tomorrow. Striker Darren Bent is also back available after returning from loan at Fulham.
Daily Mail: Alan Hutton is in line to appear for Aston Villa for the first time in more than two years at Stoke City tomorrow with Paul Lambert saying he has 'no reservations' about playing the defender he froze out. The 29-year-old, bought by Alex McLeish in August 2011, has not played one competitive minute under Lambert as the Villa manager tried to cut costs to match chairman Randy Lerner's demands. But Lambert has defused his 'Bomb Squad' this summer with the club up for sale and Hutton, who scored in a pre-season friendly, is set to start for the first time since Villa drew with Tottenham in May 2012.
The Sun: Aston Villa defender Alan Hutton is set for his first Premier League game in two years tomorrow. Owner Randy Lerner wanted him and other high earners such as Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia out to cut costs. Now Lerner is selling up the outcasts are back in. Boss Paul Lambert said: "These lads have trained hard. They've not been one ounce of bother."
Daily Express: Paul Lambert has saluted the professionalism of Alan Hutton as the defender prepares for his first competitive outing in the Aston Villa manager's two-year reign. The Scotland right-back was brought to Villa three years ago by Alex McLeish and was then frozen out. But the 29-year-old, who has been loaned out to Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Real Mallorca in the previous two campaigns, is back in favour after owner Randy Lerner told Lambert to use all the resources available to him with summer transfer funds limited at the up-for-sale club. So Hutton is in line to start against Stoke tomorrow.
Birmingham Mail: Andi Weimann is hoping he gets a chance to play upfront this season. The Austrian broke through at Villa as a striker but has played more as a link-up player and out wide under boss Paul Lambert. Last season he managed just six goals after an impressive return of 12 the previous term. Ahead of the 2014/15 campaign he has targeted an improvement, and he knows his best chance of doing that is playing as a forward.
The Daily Telegraph: Alan Hutton is set to make his first Aston Villa appearance in more than two years when his team travel to Stoke City tomorrow.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Manager Tony Pulis has left Crystal Palace by mutual consent less than 48 hours before the start of the season. Pulis, 56, met with chairman Steve Parish on Thursday as tension between the pair came to a head. The former Stoke boss, who won the Premier League's manager of the year award last season, had been frustrated by the failure to land a number of summer transfer targets. Assistant manager Keith Millen will be in charge against Arsenal on Saturday.
Sky Sports News: Roberto Martinez has dismissed suggestions that Chelsea have been given first option to sign Everton duo Ross Barkley and John Stones. Everton signed Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea last season before completing the permanent capture of the Belgium international earlier this summer. Chelsea winger Christian Atsu moved to Goodison Park on loan this week and that has prompted claims that Everton's Premier League rivals will have first refusal on Martinez's best players. Martinez has praised the way Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has built a relationship with Chelsea, but is adamant there is no gentleman's agreement between the two clubs.
BBC Sport: Luis Suarez's four-month ban for biting an opponent has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). But the Uruguay striker, 27, can now train and play in friendly matches, with new club Barcelona confirming: "He will join the first team's training session, scheduled for Friday. " The public presentation of Suarez as a new Barcelona player will be held on Monday at the Camp Nou." It is not known if he will play in Monday's game with Mexico's Club Leon.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.