Football: Boxing Day guide to the Premiership

EVENING GAME (KICK-OFF 6.0); Blackburn v Aston Villa Last season: 5-0
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The Independent Online
KEVIN GALLACHER could present new manager Brian Kidd with a selection headache today after recovering from a hamstring injury. The Scottish striker's hopes of renewing his partnership with Chris Sutton, which last year brought 41 goals, are far from guaranteed as Kidd would find it difficult to leave out Nathan Blake after the former Bolton striker's two goals as Rovers came back from 2-0 down to draw at Nottingham Forest last weekend. Gallacher may have to make do with a place on the bench - which could even leave record pounds 7.25m signing Kevin Davies with no part to play at all. Keith Gillespie is competing with fellow Irishman Damien Johnson for the wide-right position while Jason Wilcox seems certain to frustrate Damien Duff's hopes of returning on the opposite wing. Central defender Darren Peacock is another likely to be named among the subs with Kidd keeping faith with the Stephane Henchoz-Christian Dailly partnership at the heart of defence.

Aston Villa's central defender Gareth Barry could be recalled today. The England Under-21 international was left out of Villa's 1-0 win at Charlton on Monday, but Villa manager John Gregory could start the match with three central defenders against Rovers. Recalling Barry would also leave Gregory with the dilemma of who to leave out of his attack with Stan Collymore and Julian Joachim vying to join Dion Dublin up front. Paul Merson is still struggling with a back injury that looks certain to keep him out of the Bank Holiday game against Sheffield Wednesday on Monday.

BLACKBURN (from): Filan, Kenna, Henchoz, Dailly, Davidson, Gillespie, Sherwood, McKinlay, Wilcox, Sutton, Blake, Johnson, Duff, Davies, Peacock, Fettis, Gallacher, Perez, Broomes, Marcolin.

ASTON VILLA (from): Oakes, Watson, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Wright, Thompson, Taylor, Hendrie, Joachim, Dublin, Collymore, Scimeca, Grayson, Vassell, Charles, Rachel.

Suspensions: None.

Referee: D Gallagher.

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