Downing On The Up

Summer signing Stewart Downing will make his first Villa start for the reserves against Arsenal tonight.

Downing, a £12m acquisition from Middlesbrough, has been ruled out since May with a foot injury and his return is a welcome one for Martin O'Neill.

The Claret and Blue gaffer will be looking for his England winger to impress at Underhill against the Gunners as he steps up his recovery.

And, after getting a few more games under his belt, the talented left-footer is likely to slot in alongside captain Stiliyan Petrov in the centre of the first team midfield.

Ironically, it was the Bulgarian star who made the tackle which ruled Downing out of action when Villa met Boro in May.

But, the pair are now good friends and they will form a strong partnership in the centre of the park for the top four chasing side.

First though, Downing must complete his recovery and, after making a substitute appearance at Burnley on Saturday, he now faces a youthful Arsenal reserve side.

The young guns are sure to give him the run around and the game is set to be a good test of resolve for Villa's midfield maestro.