By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

23rd Aug, 2023 | 7:10am

Dan Bardell: Aston Villa to take no risks in Europa Conference League qualifier v Hibernian

We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports journalist Dan Bardell as our exclusive Aston Villa columnist each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the club…

Aston Villa “won’t take any chances” in their Europa Conference League qualifying tie against Scottish outfit Hibernian, according to Dan Bardell.

Unai Emery’s side get their European return underway at Easter Road on Wednesday (23 August) in a tie which most expect Villa to progress through.

Villa’s surprise seventh-place finish and subsequent European return has been the pinnacle of their recent success under the Spaniard, but failure to reach the group stages will undo all their good work following a poor start last season under Steven Gerrard.

Bardell admits that he is one of many Villa fans who has assumed qualification, but warns that there are “no givens” in football and backs Emery to field his strongest Aston Villa side.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, Bardell said: “I think in the qualifier, there will be no risks taken whatsoever. You won’t see any changes, it will be the regular starting eleven.

“That Hibs away game will be tough. There are no givens in football. We saw Villa get knocked out by Stevenage in the FA Cup last season when they weakened the side, so they will not take any chances against Hibs.

“Their atmosphere, with the tight ground, will be excellent in itself. I would say, at the end of the day, it’s Scotland versus England. These kinds of fixtures don’t happen very often, so Hibs will be bang up for Villa.

“Villa can’t afford to rest on their laurels at all. The side we saw against Everton will definitely be the side for Wednesday. They just can’t afford to take any chances.

“If they do progress, we will see a little bit of flexibility and a bit of rotation and players being blooded into the squad in perhaps some of the easier fixtures in European group games.

“But for these qualifiers, Villa won’t take any chances.

“I’m guilty of this too, but we all talk about this ‘Sunday-Thursday-Sunday-Thursday’ schedule, but we haven’t actually qualified yet. They’ve got to get that job done.”

In other Aston Villa news, Bardell has speculated on the club’s new transfer policy amid Monchi’s shifting role.