Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph is on the comeback trail after being out for eight months.
The England Under-21 international suffered a cruciate ligament injury during training in April.
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But the former Leeds player has joined in training for the first time this week since the setback.
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In a further boost, skipper Stiliyan Petrov (knee) and midfielder Steve Sidwell (Achilles) are also closing in on full fitness after lengthy lay-offs.
Villa manager Gerard Houllier said: "We've had a lot of injuries and sickness so it has not been easy.
"The good news is that Fabian Delph trained with us a couple of times this week.
"Petrov came back as well. He is not ready but within two weeks, he could be competitive again.
"It's the same with Sidwell as well. He is coming back. He should be okay very soon.
"The three positive signs are that Delph, Petrov and Sidwell took part in some training.
"They didn't do everything but they took part. They are between rehabilitation and getting into full training. They are not far away."
Delph is regarded as one of Villa's brightest prospects and played under Villa assistant boss Gary McAllister at Elland Road before making the move 16 months ago.
Petrov has already targeted the derby at Birmingham on January 16 for his senior comeback.