Millers look forward to a great night at a Premier Villa

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert (left) and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (right) stand on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 21, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert (left) and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (right) stand on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 21, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
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The top two goalscorers in Europe in 2013 (ie from Jan 1) are Messrs Messi and Ronaldo. At No 3 is a striker from the Premier League.

That striker is Christian Benteke of Aston Villa who has already added three more this season and might just fancy adding to his impressive tally against Rotherham United next Wednesday in the Capital One Cup at Villa Park.

However, probably much to Rotherham’s relief, Villa boss Paul Lambert may reckon that Benteke be reserved for bigger challenges ahead and he’ll probably be among two or three, if not more, who will be rested for Rotherham’s first visit to Villa Park since 1971.

Not that the Millers can expect anything other than a really stiff test anyway next Wednesday even without such as Benteke and, possibly, Gabby Agbonlahor as well.

Lambert will use the game to give some of his squad players an outing and as he has signed several overseas players this summer, one imagines they’ll get the opportunity. And, naturally, it what will be the first competitive appearance in front of their new fans for most of them, they will want to impress.

At Stamford Bridge on Wednesday during their 2-1 defeat, Lambert had to replace young defender Ciaran Clark with one of those new signings, giant Ivory Coast-born central defender Jores Okore who was a key figure in helping Nordsjaelland finish second in the Danish League last season and is a Denmark international.

Lambert will have had Rotherham watched, noted Alex Revell up front and reckoned this a perfect game to hand a debut to Okore.

There’s also likely to be a slot too for another player who appeared as a sub against Chelsea, the Bulgarian international Aleksandar Tonev, a pacy winger.

There may be an opportunity for some of the talented Villa youngsters and their Academy has an outstanding reputation.

Last season, in the prestigious NextGen Under 21 competition - which involved 24 teams, mostly from elite clubs, from 12 countries in Europe, Villa’s youngsters won it beating Chelsea in the final held in Italy.

That shows the sort of quality bubbling underneath at Villa who, of course, loaned out left winger Courtney Cameron to the Millers last season. He was released in the summer and was snapped up by Alan Knill at Torquay.

One memory for Villa which remains painful is the defeat in last season’s semi-final of this competition when they went out to Bradford City over two legs when they must have been contemplating a trip to Wembley.

For the Millers players, however, it is the chance to play at a Premier League ground - albeit one likely to be less than half-full - and against top flight players.

No Rotherham side has actually been to a top flight club in this competition since going to Highbury 10 years ago.

So, it is one the players will relish. Interestingly, Villa under Lambert have some quick attacking players and they are adept at striking quickly on the counter-attack, something that Rotherham have been vulnerable to and something they will certainly have to pay full attention to next Wednesday.

Of course, no mention of the tie can slip by without recall of the piece of competition history then envelops these two clubs who appeared in the first ever final in this competition back in 1961 when it was sponsor-free and simply known as the Football League Cup.

Villa were in the top flight and Rotherham in what’s now the Championship.

The final, over two legs, was held over from the end of the 1960/61 season (on Football League insistence because Villa’s two-legged semi with Burnley went to a third match) and it was played in the opening weeks of the following season.

Millmoor staged the first leg, in front of 12,226, and Rotherham won 2-0 with goals from Barry Webster and Alan Kirkman with goalkeeper Roy Ironside saving a penalty from Villa’s Stan Lynn.

The second leg drew 31,000 to Villa Park. Villa, having scored twice to level the aggregate score over 90 minutes, then snatched another in extra-time to win 3-0.

Rotherham did have some cup success there a few years later. It was the time of Tommy Docherty in charge at Millmoor and Rotherham went to Villa Park in a fourth round FA Cup-tie in 1968 and won 1-0 with a goal from Scot Jim Storrie.

It’s a pity the tie isn’t at the New York Stadium, thus giving the new ground its first Premier League visitors for a cup night but Rotherham will certainly be well backed next Wednesday.

The allocation of 4,800 is certainly generous but if they won’t have them all, there will be a good take up.

It also marks a little milestone for myself - Aston Villa is the only club I have never reported from.

So, I didn’t mind the away draw if I may say so!