Express & Star

Boost for injury-hit Villa star Jores Okore

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Jores Okore today handed Villa an injury boost after revealing he could return before the end of the season.

The defender is recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury and his recovery is ahead of schedule.

It was initially feared he would be ruled out for the whole campaign after suffering the blow in just his fourth game – the 2-1 defeat to Newcastle in September.

But the £4m summer signing from Nordsjaelland has received a boost and is eyeing an early return from his lay-off.

He tweeted: "Buzzing. I may be back this season!!!"

Villa are also missing Ron Vlaar, out with a calf injury, but are hopeful the skipper could return for Saturday's trip to Stoke.

The Dutch international has missed the defeats to Fulham and Manchester United since limping off in the win at Southampton.

And the centre-back hopes he will be back to aid Villa's festive fight ahead of the trip to the Britannia and Boxing Day visit of Crystal Palace.

"At the moment I'm attempting to overcome the injury," he said.

"It's annoying to be receiving treatment, rather than training with the rest of the team.

"Like any other player I do everything possible to remain at peak fitness, but I felt my calf during the first half at Southampton and it really stiffened up at half-time so there was no point continuing.

"Hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back because I remember how infuriating it was to be out of action last winter."

Villa are six points above the bottom three after successive defeats and boss Paul Lambert has reiterated they are still developing.

He added: "We're a work in progress and we're nowhere near the finished article but the foundations are in place, the building work has seen the emergence of a strong and competitive team with a real work ethic and our results show that on our day we can face up to any team.

"That feeds our hope about what we can genuinely accomplish.

"We're stronger as a group and we're growing stronger all the time. Defeats are part of the job, but you simply dust yourself down, get right back at it and this attitude is increasingly evident in our play and in the way we can deal with adversity."