Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is pondering a change of formation and personnel as the club look to pick up their second Premier League win of the season at home to Newcastle.

Villa will be without Emile Heskey for up to three weeks after he picked up a hamstring strain in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Everton, meaning McLeish may alter his 4-2-3-1 system in which the former England man played just off lone striker Darren Bent with Charles N'Zogbia and Gabriel Agbonlahor out wide.

Asked if he may tinker with his formation on Saturday, McLeish said: "Possibly. We have options with the players that can come in.

"There's some players really champing at the bit to get into the team.

"When you have injuries or suspensions it's an opportunity for another player and any player who comes in has to grab that opportunity."

He continued: "[Barry Bannan] is looking for a start. There are a few looking for a start.

"Marc Albrighton has been really bright in training. He came back after his holidays having had an extra week off and I think he felt he was doing a little bit of catch-up on the other players but he needed that rest and I think that will tell in the second half of the season and Marc will be much stronger for that.

"Right now he's pushing for a place because his training performances have been absolutely outstanding.

"We'll try to decide what we think is the best XI to go out and hopefully get the three points against Newcastle."

Villa won their opening home game of the season 3-1 against Blackburn last month and McLeish is hoping his players will establish Villa Park as a fortress this term.

"I expect us to win more games than not here at Villa Park," he said.

"We know how precious three points are in this Barclays Premier League and we'll be going all out for the three points against Newcastle United.

"We want to start picking up victories. That's the challenge to myself and the players and they're capable of doing that.

"They know they've been a little bit unlucky on one or two occasions. In the first half last week we were not ourselves at all.

"The second half was much better and they have to take the positives from that second half into this game."

He added: "That's the bread and butter - your home games. We really want to try to close that gap between us and Newcastle. That's our goal tomorrow."

Alan Pardew's Magpies have started the campaign impressively and head to the midlands in fourth spot having collected eight points - two more than Villa - from their four games so far.

"Alan's done a great job," McLeish acknowledged. "They got a precious point the other night [Monday's 0-0 draw at QPR] when maybe they weren't at their best.

"That tells you something about their character. We face a tough battle, no doubt about it."

McLeish was pleased with the character shown by his own team last weekend - and also more than satisfied with the quality he has in his ranks after joining the club from arch-rivals Birmingham over the summer.

"I really have been pleased with the players' attitude and application," he said.

"Last week I saw something else and that was bottle. The bottle in the second half... I was wondering if I was going to see that and I saw it in abundance."

He continued: "I've been impressed by one or two players that I never thought were as good as they are. That's been a big plus and a bonus for us."

McLeish insisted he never considered signing Scott Dann or Roger Johnson from Blues after seeing close up the ability of Villa centre-backs Richard Dunne and James Collins.

"There are great players here. People were saying I was probably going to go back [to Birmingham] and sign Scott, sign Roger," he said.

"To be honest, that was one position that wasn't a priority because of the prowess of the two guys I have here - and young Ciaran Clark there to back them up, who looks like he's going to be a top player also.

"I've seen Richard Dunne over the years and [assistant manager] Peter Grant knows James Collins very well. We felt we were looking to strengthen the squad but it certainly wasn't going to be in that position."

Pardew has challenged his Newcastle players to defy the odds to retain their place in the in the Barclays Premier League's top four.

Not since the Bobby Robson era, when the Magpies finished fourth, third and fifth in successive seasons, have the Magpies rubbed shoulders so closely with English football's elite, and their current lofty status has come as a surprise to many.

Indeed, few would expect them to remain on the coat-tails of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea despite their hugely encouraging start to the new campaign.

However, Pardew insists they are there on merit and while he knows there are tougher tests to come as he prepares for the trip to Aston Villa, he insists there is no reason why they cannot stay in the upper reaches of the table.

He said with a smile: "I took my phone and got a picture of it [the league table] to make sure it was correct, and I will keep that.

"There's no sense of us getting carried away - I don't think that will ever happen under my management.

"It's about taking that belief into the games. That's where we are and that's where we deserve to be and from now on, that's where we have got to try to stay if we can."

Newcastle are where they are because they have conceded only one league goal in their four games to date, and that has been enough to secure draws with Arsenal and QPR and wins over Sunderland and Fulham.

But they have scored only three times themselves in the process and while the balance has been good enough during the opening weeks of the season, Pardew knows unless something changes, they will have to continue to keep clean sheets if they are to maintain that momentum.

He said: "The discipline in the squad has been the key and our defenders have been really at the top of their game.

"Where we sit right now, there is a huge dependence on them at the moment and we want to just change that, take some pressure off them and get a couple of goals here and there - or maybe three or four."

That process, of course, has not been helped by the club's failure to sign the striker they had been courting ever since Andy Carroll's January exit for Liverpool, and that had placed the burden of expectation on Leon Best and Shola Ameobi in recent weeks.

Chances were few and far between for the pair at QPR on Monday night as defensive resilience helped to secure a 0-0 draw, although Pardew admits it was their good fortune that the promoted side were unable to make the most of the chances they created.

However, he is confident that there is much more to come from his players with Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa and former Everton midfielder Dan Gosling due back from long-term injuries in the weeks ahead.

He said: "We know as a group we didn't play particularly well and we rode our luck a couple of times. The rest of our play, our resilience, our commitment and work-rate, was very evident.

"We just need to tweak ourselves and make sure we pass the ball and take care of it and threaten the opposition more at Aston Villa, hopefully.

"I think they are a little bit like us - they have three or four new players they are trying to bed in and are not exactly sure what's their best team at the moment.

"But most teams in the Premier League are still finding their feet a little bit.

"They [Villa] have some outstanding individuals, of course, and they will be a definite threat to us.

"But we have conceded one goal in the Premier League, and that gives us a good foundation to go on and try and win the game."