Stuart Taylor is on standby to keep goal against Manchester City tomorrow night — but with a bit more notice than he had when thrown in for his Aston Villa debut against the same opponents 13 months ago.
Taylor made his Villa bow in bizarre circumstances against City at Eastlands last October when first-choice No 1 Thomas Sorensen pulled out with back spasms less than an hour before the game.
It proved a baptism of fire for Taylor when he was involved in a mix-up inside the fourth minute, former Villa striker Darius Vassell was handed a gift goal and City went on to win 3-1.
But, on this occasion, Taylor has at least had the chance to mentally prepare himself properly, after replacing Sorensen for the final 20 minutes of Saturday's 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough at Villa Park.
Sorensen damaged his knee after colliding with the goalpost following a collision with Boro defender Emmanuel Pogatetz. Although Villa officials say it is still too early to make a long-term assessment on the extent of the damage, it would be a surprise if the Danish international played in Villa's second home game in five days.
A club spokesman said last night: "Thomas had an initial scan on Sunday, but we are giving it a further 24 hours to settle down before making any decision."
If Taylor does play, then he and the Villa defence will hope to have more luck coping with Vassell than they managed last season; in two league games and two FA Cup clashes, he plundered four goals.
The most recent of those was in April when Vassell scored the only goal in City's 1-0 win at Villa Park but most memories will centre more on the two Cup games.
Despite outplaying Villa in front of a live Sunday night television audience, City saved themselves only thanks to defender Micah Richards' injury-time header at Villa Park before Vassell's second-half winner settled the replay at Eastlands.
Failure to win in four attempts against City last season stretched a dreadful run to nine meetings — Villa have not won against the blue half of Manchester since Vassell scored the only goal in a 1-0 triumph at Villa Park in August 2002.
Yet captain Gareth Barry insists: "We can't look at that too much. We have to view Saturday as two dropped points but we've got the perfect chance to try to bounce back on Wednesday night.
"In any case, we can't feel too disappointed when you think we've only lost once in 14 games and teams are certainly showing us more respect.
"Middlesbrough were sitting back time-wasting, making it clear they were more than happy with a point and that shows how well we've done this season."
It now seems unlikely that Lee Hendrie will play some part tomorrow. Villa have not taken up the option of recalling the midfielder early from his loan spell at Stoke City and he is now free to fulfil the scheduled remaining two games of his two-month stay.
However, no final decision has yet been made as to whether Hendrie will stay in the Potteries for a third month. Stoke boss Tony Pulis is hopeful Villa manager Martin O'Neill will agree to his request, but the Potters have not yet been in touch to make it official.