The FourFourTwo Preview: Tottenham vs Aston Villa

Sixth place and Europa League qualification for a fourth consecutive season will belong to the London club if they avoid defeat at White Hart Lane on Sunday, with Manchester United three points behind them.

European football would have been secured last week with a positive result as opposed to a chastening 2-0 loss at West Ham and the future of head coach Tim Sherwood remains uncertain.

Sherwood was handed an 18-month contract when he succeeded Andre-Villas Boas in December and despite keeping Tottenham on course for a top-six finish, the former England midfielder has been faced with questions over his position for weeks.

Heavy Premier League defeats against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as a Europa League exit at the hands of Benfica, harmed Sherwood's prospects of staying on in the role and several names have been linked with his post.

Louis van Gaal was initially touted for the job but now appears most likely to be Manchester United-bound, while his fellow Dutchman and Ajax boss Frank de Boer claims to have been contacted by Tottenham - which the club denied - and Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino is also a reported target.

Sherwood has taken to the task admirably in difficult circumstances and has had to contend with a significant injury list. The West Ham reverse ended a four-match unbeaten run that included three victories.

Younes Kaboul is suspended for the clash with Villa following his red card last weekend, but fellow defender Jan Vertonghen (ankle) could feature having turned out for the Under-21s and midfielder Etienne Capoue (ankle) may return.

Villa boss Paul Lambert also conceded to being uncertain over his own future this week, although there has not been a clamour for the Scot's position comparable to Sherwood's.

A 3-1 win over Hull City last weekend belatedly secured Villa's top-flight status, but Wednesday's trip to Manchester City saw them ship four goals on the road for a second consecutive match.

Although Lambert - a former Scotland international and UEFA Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund during his playing days - described staying up as one of his greatest achievements in football, he is realistic about Villa's plight.

"I think the football club needs investment," he said. "It's punching you right in the face. Any club that wins a European Cup and has won leagues before and got a massive fanbase should never be in this position."

The visitors could be handed a boost in attack as Gabriel Agbonlahor battles to return from a knee problem, while Marc Albrighton (groin) could bolster Lambert's midfield.

Strike duo Christian Benteke (Achilles) and Libor Kozak (broken leg) are long-term absentees.

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