Villa skipper Laursen targets mid-April return
Skipper Martin Laursen has urged his Aston Villa team-mates to keep alive his dream of playing at Wembley in the FA Cup final as he starts rehabilitation work after knee surgery.
The Danish central defender, who recently retired from international football, is frustrated to be sidelined with Martin O'Neill's side chasing glory on three fronts.
But Laursen expects to be back playing by the time of the cup semi-finals in mid-April as Villa start the countdown to Sunday's fifth-round tie at Everton.
And he is confident Villa will still be involved in the competition plus the UEFA Cup and the push for a Champions League spot via the Barclays Premier League when he regains fitness.
Laursen said: "Every footballer dreams of playing at Wembley and I am hoping my team-mates can make it a reality for me over the course of the next few weeks.
"Right now there is nothing I can do to help. The medical experts reckon I will be sidelined for around eight weeks which is frustrating to say the least.
"But I certainly expect to be back by the time the FA Cup semi-finals roll around in mid-April. Success on Merseyside would leave us only one round away from that stage.
"Because of my various injury problems, I've only been involved in one FA Cup tie for Villa - against Manchester United - but I am aware just how important the competition is."
Laursen added: "We've got the top four spot in the league to push for and are still in the UEFA Cup plus the FA Cup. To miss out on all three at the present is disappointing for myself.
"But I am confident the lads will make sure we are still involved on all three fronts by the time I return. There is so much to play for."