Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba could return to the first-team squad for the first time in nearly four months today as the Villans host Tottenham Hotspur.
According to Villa manager Steven Gerrard, the Zimbabwe international is nearing a return to action.
Ahead of the meeting with Spurs, the 41-year-old said of Nakamba: “He has played for the under-23s. So you couldn’t rule out the possibility of him making the matchday squad soon. If not for the Tottenham game, then he’s certainly going to be available for that Leicester fixture.
“But he has an outside chance of being involved in the matchday squad this weekend, although it wouldn’t be a start.
“It might be a bit too soon for him now because he hasn’t had any serious game time. Hopefully, he comes through that, recovers well and then he can be back with the group. He’s been back training fully for ten, 12 days, and he’s smiling, getting closer and closer.”
The Zambian has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury away to Liverpool in December but he featured for Villa’s under-23s last Friday, the 28-year-old’s first match since that pre-Christmas setback.
Although inconsistent form has ultimately denied the West Midlands side any late shot at qualifying for Europe, a top-half finish is still very achievable for the Villans.
With eight matches to go, it is vital that Gerrard’s men finish the season as strongly as possible, with the manager certain to be making judgements over the coming weeks as to which players will have a future at Villa Park .
Therefore, Nakamba’s imminent return comes as excellent timing, both for him and for the team as a whole.
The regular midfield trio of Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey have impressed during the 28-year-old’s absence, although having another option in the middle of the park will undoubtedly improve the Villa squad and give the manager some pleasant food for thought.
Indeed, Gerrard will be buzzing to have Nakamba back available, as the player had proven his worth for Villa earlier in the campaign. His match average of two tackles is the fourth-highest in the squad, while his 86.6% passing accuracy makes him the joint-leader in this regard of any current Villa player to have started a Premier League match this term, as per WhoScored.
Having as many players available as possible will be a high priority for Gerrard as his side look to finish the season strongly ahead of what could be a busy summer in the West Midlands.