Aston Villa v Leeds United: Bartley gets nod after recovering from clash of heads

Leeds United defender Kyle Bartley.
Leeds United defender Kyle Bartley.
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Kyle Bartley will be fit to play in Leeds United’s game at Aston Villa despite a clash of heads with Luke Ayling in their Boxing Day win over Preston North End.

Bartley needed treatment during and after Monday’s 4-1 victory at Deepdale following an incident which resulted in the dismissal of Preston striker Jermaine Beckford. Bartley and Ayling collided in mid-air as the pair competed with Beckford for a high ball near the halfway line. Former Leeds forward Beckford reacted to Bartley’s challenge on him by kicking the centre-back in the face, incurring a straight red card just three minutes after appearing as a substitute.

United head coach Garry Monk said Bartley had been “groggy” after the collision with Ayling but allayed any fears of Bartley – a solid mainstay in his defence this season – missing tomorrow’s televised trip to Villa Park.

“Kyle will be fine for the Villa game,” Monk said. “He had a little clash of heads with Luke Ayling but nothing serious. He was feeling a little groggy, he had a bit of treatment at the end of the game but it was nothing more than that.”

Leeds head to Villa Park on the back of three straight wins and with an improving injury list after Chris Wood and Pablo Hernandez returned from hamstring strains in the victory over Preston. Midfielder Eunan O’Kane is not expected to feature in Birmingham due to a groin problem but Monk is hopeful of recalling him for the visit of Rotherham United to Elland Road next Monday.

Charlie Taylor, meanwhile, is continuing to be assessed after missing the clash at Deepdale with an Achilles injury.

Taylor was hurt during a 1-0 win over Brentford before Christmas and Gaetano Berardi replaced him at left-back against Preston.

Monk said: “Charlie was still a bit sore with his Achilles. We’ve got two games in a short period and you have to manage the team right.

“If we get it right we get the freshness in both games.”

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