Aston Villa centre-back Richard Dunne has returned to training for the first time since breaking his collarbone two months ago and could feature in the club's run-in, manager Alex McLeish has revealed.
Dunne's absence has been keenly felt, with Villa winning just one of the nine games he has been sidelined for, after falling awkwardly against Manchester City in February.
The defender's return is good news for his club and country, with Ireland now likely to be able to call upon him for Euro 2012 and Villa provided with a timely boost as they look to preserve their Premier League status.
"It's good news regarding Richard. He has rejoined the group for training today," McLeish said. "If he doesn't
McLeish expects Dunne to be available for instant first team action rather than having to test out his fitness via the reserves.
"With a guy like Dunnie, and with what the modern day physical trainers and medical people do, the aim is to try and get the player up to speed so he can go straight back into the side," McLeish said.
"There should be plenty of preparation work for Dunnie so he can step straight back in.''
Villa are currently five points above the relegation zone with four games - against Bolton, West Brom, Tottenham and Norwich - remaining.