Lowton fit for Villa's opener
Matthew Lowton should be fit to justify new Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert's decision to rule Alan Hutton out of his plans.
A slight ankle injury sidelined Lowton from last weekend's final friendly - a 3-3 draw at Werder Bremen - but he is highly confident of being fit for Saturday's Premier League opener at West Ham United.
"Everything's fine," he insisted. "My ankle had a bit of swelling on it but I just sat it [the Bremen game] out, so it didn't get any worse. I'm excited ahead of Saturday. With it being a Premier League game, the atmosphere will be electric. Fingers crossed, I can start and we get a good result."
So quickly has the former Sheffield United man settled in since becoming Lambert's second Villa Park signing that Hutton has been encouraged to find a new club. He has yet to play in the top flight but scored his first goal in Villa colours when he faced Portland Timbers on the tour of America.
Hutton was left out of the 25-man squad for that trip and had a disappointing 2011-12 season following his move from Tottenham Hotspur.
Ciaran Clark, meanwhile, believes the international retirement of his countryman Shay Given is good news for their club.
"Maybe that was one of the reasons for him to call it a day," said Clark. "Perhaps he wanted to concentrate on his Villa career.
"He made a couple of great saves on Saturday that were just typical Shay. He does it every day in training. With a keeper like that in your team, you are always confident. It is a shame he has called it a day, but he has got his reasons."