Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership - Middlesbrough v Aston Villa Last season: No fixture

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The Independent Online
THE MIDDLESBROUGH midfielder Robbie Mustoe is very unlikely to start as the Teessiders prepare to play hosts to the Premiership leaders today. Mustoe is struggling with a hamstring injury, while defender Colin Cooper misses out through suspension. Italian Gianluca Festa will play despite breaking his nose for the fifth time in training this week. Today's visitors have lost only once in their last four trips to Teesside.

Villa will welcome back midfielder Ian Taylor and striker Dion Dublin for the game. The duo both missed last weekend's FA Cup success over Hull City with groin problems. Dublin seems certain to return, possibly at the expense of Stan Collymore, who scored twice against Hull. Taylor is likely to take over from Mark Draper in midfield as Villa seek to record a double over Middlesbrough, having beaten them 3-1 at Villa Park back in August. Definitely missing for Villa are midfielder Alan Thompson, who is facing six weeks on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury, and Paul Merson who is still attempting to shake off his back problem.

MIDDLESBROUGH (from): Schwarzer, Beresford, Fleming, Gordon, Vickers, Pallister, Festa, Gascoigne, Townsend, Maddison, Ricard, Deane, Stamp, Beck, Harrison, Stockdale, Blackmore, Kinder, Moore.

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

Suspensions: Boro: Cooper.

Referee: U Rennie.

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