David O'Leary has challenged Lee Hendrie to re-establish himself as an Aston Villa first team regular after the Eirik Bakke's return to Leeds.
O'Leary had wanted to retain the services of Bakke for the remainder of the campaign but the loan period of the Norwegian international has been cut short.
It has given another opportunity to Hendrie who has been on the fringe of the first team picture for the majority of the campaign.
The 28-year-old has still to start a match at Villa Park this season and his four starts have all been away - including Saturday's goalless draw at Tottenham.
A sending-off for violent conduct in a pre-season friendly with Tamworth did not help his cause and led to a three-match suspension and then Hendrie picked up a knee injury.
But he is now firmly back in O'Leary's plans, particularly with Wilfred Bouma's absence through injury meaning Gareth Barry having to drop back from midfield to left-back in recent weeks.
O'Leary said: 'Lee Hendrie has been available for me for eight or nine games this season.
'He missed a load of games at the start of the season because of a stupid sending-off, then he got a knee injury which ruled him out for a long time.
'The eight or nine games he has been available for, he has played in. He got injured before Christmas and has been out for a month and has come back.
'Now Bakke has gone he has a chance to establish himself again in the side.'
O'Leary has insisted he has had no enquiries for any of his unsettled players - Hendrie, Jlloyd Samuel, Mark Delaney and Ulises de la Cruz - during the January transfer window.
He said: 'If players are disappointed and are unhappy, what happens usually is they tell their agent and it's about whether another club can come in to relieve their problem.
'I've not had taken calls about any of my players in this window.'
Meanwhile, Villa striker Kevin Phillips will look to prove his fitness for Saturday's FA Cup tie with Port Vale by having another run-out for the reserves.
Phillips, sidelined for two months with an ankle problem, came through 70 minutes of a reserve fixture with Birmingham last week and will play for the second team against Manchester City on Tuesday.