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(Image) Roberto Di Matteo begins Aston Villa pre-season as he plots Premier League return

Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo has a major job on his hands this summer as he took charge of the start of pre-season training on Monday.

The Italian tactician was appointed as the new Villa manager last month, and has been joined by former Chelsea team-mate Steve Clarke at the club ahead of the new season.

Following on from their disastrous campaign last year in which they ended bottom of the Premier League with just three wins from 38 games, it promises to be a difficult road back to the top flight for the West Midlands outfit.

However, with new owner Tony Xia in place along with new coaching staff and the potential for several new faces in the squad, things are looking positive for the club ahead of their bow in the Championship.

Tommy Elphick was signed from Bournemouth last month to become Di Matteo’s first signing at his new club, and the central defender is expected to play a pivotal role in their success given his experience of gaining promotion from the Championship along with his defensive qualities and leadership skills.

Di Matteo will likely take this week as an opportunity to assess what is currently at his disposal, but with the backing of Xia, he will expect to have the freedom to strengthen where required and be tasked with offloading deadwood where necessary.

It’s been an eventful summer already at Villa with new ownership, management and a new kit with sponsors Under Armour, but now the playing staff must be reinforced as they look to secure an immediate return to the Premier League.

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