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Boro to face Villa in first pre-season friendly

Villa Park, home of Aston Villa Football Club Credit: Dave Howarth/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Middlesbrough will play Aston Villa in their first pre-season friendly ahead of next season's campaign back in the Premier League.

Boro will travel to Villa Park on July 30 to face the home side, who were relegated last season for the first time since 1987. The match is scheduled to kick-off at 3pm.

The club is expected to play at least three more games in pre-season, with those fixtures being announced in due course.

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Sunderland v Villa - 'The biggest game of the season'

Sam Allardyce says they have to 'hold their nerve' against Aston Villa - in what will be 'the biggest match of the season'.

Aston Villa sits at the bottom of the Premier League table, just one place below Sunderland.

This all-important match will take place at the Stadium of Light tomorrow (Saturday) and can be seen as a relegation battle.

This is how the Sunderland manager describes the tie:

Gutierrez back in Newcastle squad

Jonas Gutierrez will be back in the Newcastle United squad this weekend for the first time since overcoming testicular cancer.

The Argentinean midfielder returned to action in an under-21 Premier League Cup win over West Ham in December. But he could finally make his first-team comeback when the Magpies welcome Aston Villa to St James' Park on Saturday.

Newcastle boss John Carver confirmed the 31-year-old could be on the bench for the Premier League clash.

Given to stay at Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough's on-loan goalkeeper Shay Given Credit: Richard Sellers/EMPICS Sport

Middlesbrough have reached an agreement with Aston Villa to extend goalkeeper Shay Given's loan spell at the Riverside.

The 37-year-old has played seven games for Boro since his arrival on Teesside a month ago. The Republic of Ireland international will now remain at the club until February 28.

Middlesbrough's Chief Executive Neil Bausor said: "We are extremely delighted to secure the extension of Shay's loan until the end of February."

Given spent 12 years at Newcastle United before moving to Manchester City in January 2009 and then onto Aston Villa in 2011. He also made 17 appearances for Sunderland during a loan spell in 1996.

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