Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar has confessed he is excited about returning to Villa Park – but desperately wants to beat his former club.
Cuellar made 123 appearances for the Villans before swapping the Midlands for Wearside last year.
The Spaniard told the official Sunderland website: “I hope we are going to win on Monday. Afterwards I wish Villa all the best to win their last three games.”
“I am playing against friends with whom I trained and worked so hard for four years."
Sunderland have enjoyed a mini-revival under Paolo Di Canio but are still only five points clear of the relegation zone, despite winning two successive matches.
Villa sit three points below the Black Cats and are precariously positioned above a Wigan Athletic famed for last-ditch revivals.
Cuellar was confident about Sunderland’s chances of avoiding the drop however and suggested that a change in mentality has helped turn their bad form around.
“The confidence of the team is so high,” he said. “If we play with the same dedication, confidence and courage as we have during the last three games, we will be hard to beat.
“The look of the team is strong and if we play the same way we can finish well in the league.”
Sunderland are set to play back-to-back Monday matches, with Stoke’s arrival at the Stadium of Light next week a must win game should Di Canio’s side lose this week.
A victory against Paul Lambert’s strugglers however will bring up the fabled 40-point mark for Sunderland and plunge their Birmingham-based opponents into further trouble.