Carlos Cuellar closing in on Villa comeback

Carlos Cuellar today gave manager Alex McLeish a fitness boost after he confirmed he is edging closer to a return to first-team action.

Carlos Cuellar today gave manager Alex McLeish a fitness boost after he confirmed he is edging closer to a return to first-team action.

The Spanish defender has been out since the summer having had a knee operation following a tear in his meniscus which limited him to 16 appearances last season.

It had appeared that Cuellar’s future lay away from Villa Park after he was strongly linked with a transfer to former club Rangers.

Villa had agreed fee with the Scottish Premier League champions but the move collapsed because Rangers had concerns over how long Cuellar would be on the sidelines.

But the 30-year-old centre-back is now closing in on a return and is eager to impress McLeish and press his claims for a spot in the starting line-up.

“I am really close to coming back. I’m about to start training with the rest of the team and to fight for a place in the team,” said Cuellar.

“Unfortunately I am having my own pre-season as I had a minor calf injury so I had to slow things down a bit.

“But it’s normal I have had muscle contracture before so if it progresses as well then I’ll be back with the rest of the group next week.

“I’m looking forward to be back in the team.”

Despite their exit from the Carling Cup at the hands of Bolton during the week, Cuellar has largely been impressed with Villa’s start to the season.

“We have improved our performance in all areas. I can see the confidence in the squad and that really helps,” added the Spaniard.