Huddersfield Town’s new Championship rivals Aston Villa are putting pre-season plans in place – even though they are yet to appoint a new manager.
Ex-Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson and former Chelsea chief Roberto Di Matteo are among the frontrunners after David Moyes pulled out of the running.
The one-time Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager impressed prospective new Villa owner Dr Tony Xia.
But it’s believed the 53-year-old Scotsman was uncertain about dropping into the second tier, where Villa will play for the first time since 1988.
A pre-season schedule has been mapped out so the new manager will simply have to select one of three potential tour destinations.
Friendly fixtures close to home have also been pencilled in and just need confirmation.
Villa’s existing players have been given a basic fitness plan to work on over the summer and are due back in the first week of July.
Decisions will then be made over whether they are in the frame for the next season.
The Birmingham club finished rock-bottom of the Premier League with only three wins from 38 games, having sacked Remi Garde in March.
Chinese businessman Xia has agreed a £60m deal to buy Villa, put up for sale by American billionaire Randy Lerner in 2014.
But he will not technically own the club until his takeover is approved by the Football League.
Xia says he plans to make Villa “the most famous football club in China with a huge fanbase”.
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There have been only 10 league meetings between Town and Villa in the last 50 years.
The most recent were in Division II (now the Championship) in 1987-88.
Villa won 1-0 in Huddersfield before a 1-1 draw in Birmingham.
Next season’s fixtures – Newcastle United will also be on Town’s list – are out on Wednesday, June 22.