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By ESPN Staff

Harewood injury boost for Aston Villa

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has been boosted by the news striker Marlon Harewood's injury is not as serious as first thought.

Harewood was ruled out of Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Manchester City after pulling up in training on Friday and initial examinations suggested he could be out for two months with a stress fracture.

However, O'Neill has revealed the prognosis for the 28-year-old summer signing from West Ham is far less serious than feared.

'At the end of training on Friday he pulled up with a problem at the back of the knee. He'd had a bit of discomfort there some weeks ago - at the back end of last season with West Ham - but I think the rest during the summer had allowed it to settle down,' O'Neill told the club's website.

'This is the first time he's complained about it here and as a precaution we sent him for scans. The first one showed a possibility of a stress fracture.

'But after further examinations and the benefits of other scans, we don't think at this minute that the situation is as bad as all that.

'Marlon feels half decent and we are now treating it as a lot of bruising around that area.

'So, though we're still cautious it might not be the length of time out we first feared. That would be great news.'

Meanwhile, Patrik Berger is set for his first appearance of the season in the reserves tonight.

The Czech Republic midfielder sustained a hamstring injury on the final day of pre-season and is desperate to return to action.

He said: 'It's been very frustrating for me. At first we thought the injury would only keep me out for a short while but it has gone on and on.

'The worst thing about this has been that I did all the pre-season training, worked hard on my fitness and then suffered a setback. It was really bad timing.

'I just want to get back to action. Last season ended so well for me and I want to get back into contention for the first team.'