Villa look to spirit of Christmas past

Wins against Everton and West Brom, and points against London pair Fulham and Arsenal have seen Villa climb to the relative safety of mid-table, and confidence will be sky high as the Premiership side prepare to face a Hull team currently languishing in the second flight. A 3-1 defeat by Sheffield United on Wednesday left Peter Taylor's side 17th in the standings and with Birmingham-born Chris Fagan struggling to shake off an ankle injury, they could have their work cut out against Villa.

Much of their hopes at the KC Stadium will rest squarely on the shoulders of former England player Nick Barmby, while former Villa keeper Boaz Myhill will be doing his best to upset his former employers. He will be spared facing the injured Kevin Phillips and suspended Milan Baros, however, as Luke Moore and Juan Pablo Angel are likely to lead the line. Villa could be boosted by the return of Wilfred Bouma - sad, I know – and Thomas Sorenson as they seek to avoid a repeat of the humiliating League Cup defeat of Doncaster.