Hull City Vs Aston Villa, Wed 21 Apr 2010

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Hull boss Iain Dowie will not risk defender Anthony Gardner against Aston Villa.

The former Tottenham player, who has been out for two months with an ankle injury, has returned to full training and Dowie is hopeful he will be ready to face Sunderland on Saturday.

Midfielders Dean Marney (illness) and Bernard Mendy (hamstring) are doubtful while Caleb Folan is set to miss out because of a hip problem.

Kamil Zayatte, Amr Zaki, Ian Ashbee, Richard Garcia (all knee) and Stephen Hunt (foot) are out but keeper Matt Duke and teenage midfielder Tom Cairney will keep their places after impressing in the goalless draw against Birmingham at the weekend.

Dowie knows a lack of goals could be what condemns Hull to Coca-Cola Championship football next year but he insists a more attacking approach is not necessarily the answer.

A number of Hull fans were frustrated with Dowie's tactics in the goalless draw at Birmingham on Saturday, when the Tigers started with only Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink up front.

Jozy Altidore came on late in the game but as a replacement for Vennegoor of Hesselink, not to play alongside him.

Hull have scored only 32 goals in 34 matches this season, the third lowest in the division, but Dowie has insisted he got it right at St Andrew's.

He said: "We've probably had more shots on target that we've had all year. We had come off a bad defeat (4-1 at home to Burnley) and away form has been a concern to us so we changed it for that.

"Playing two up front is fine if the pair are scoring but we've got nine goals from strikers all year. We chucked Jozy on late in the game and maybe you go with two, but maybe you go with two and instead of getting a point you're sitting here with nothing. It's a small step but one that might be very important.

"You've got to be pragmatic. It's not as if I've come in here and been able to change personnel so you've got to deal with the hand you've been given."

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is to set to name an unchanged side as his team chase Champions League qualification.

O'Neill is poised to retain the 11 that started last Sunday's 2-1 win at Portsmouth.

Matchwinner Nathan Delfouneso, who came off the bench to seal the victory with the first Premier League goal of his career, is again likely to start among the substitutes.

Full-back Luke Young, who picked up a leg injury in training last weekend that ruled him out of the squad against Portsmouth, is set to be on the bench.

England Under-21 international midfielder Fabian Delph is missing after being ruled out for the rest of the year following the cruciate knee ligament damage he suffered in training last weekend.

Ahead of the game, O'Neill has dismissed speculation linking England midfielder James Milner with a #24 million summer move to Manchester City.

Milner, who has two years left on his Villa contract, has also been tipped as a target for Manchester United.

But Villa, who paid #12 million to sign Milner from Newcastle United two years ago, plan to open contract talks with him at the end of the season.

Commenting on the Milner rumours, O'Neill said: "It is irksome at this stage of the season. It doesn't do anyone any favours particularly because the player has had a fantastic time and is enjoying his football immensely here.

"He has had a really brilliant time, particularly since moving into the middle of midfield and I am delighted for him.

"James is still under contract with us and it's a case of dampening fires that weren't there in the first place. We want the best players to stay here at Aston Villa so we can keep the momentum going."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Aston Villa
Hull City

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