Yannick Bolasie aiming for first Aston Villa start as he looks to put injury torment firmly in the past

Yannick Bolasie is targeting a first Villa start in Sunday’s Second City derby as the winger finally looks to put his injury torment in the past.

Yannick Bolasie has been limited to substitute appearances so far for Aston Villa
Yannick Bolasie has been limited to substitute appearances so far for Aston Villa

The 29-year-old has revealed he is only now beginning to feel confident in his body again, nearly two years on from the serious knee injury which threatened his career.

Bolasie has so far been limited to appearances from the bench since joining Villa on loan from Everton in August.

He arrived having done no pre-season work and after steadily building his fitness only began full training with Dean Smith’s squad earlier this month.

But after an impressive cameo in Villa’s 3-0 win at Derby, Bolasie feels he is starting to get back toward his best.

He said: “I feel it in myself, in my body. I’m getting more confidence.

“I’m just grateful that Villa have given me the chance to get up to that level.

“I’ve been building up from the start - since I came to Villa. I didn’t have a pre-season. I didn’t do anything.

“I had to build myself up and that always meant it would be a slow start.

“There was a time where I wasn’t even running. But I’m getting there slowly and I’m just happy about that.

“I think I’m close now but when I first came I was nowhere near the level that I should be at.”

Bolasie underwent two operations after damaging the cruciate ligament in his right knee in December, just months after joining Everton from Crystal Palace in a £28million deal.

Since returning in December last year he has struggled to recapture his previous form and said: “Looking back I came back too early. I rushed back because I wanted to play a lot more minutes.

“I played more minutes at Everton when I came back than I have at Villa so far.

“But now I’ve done it the right way and I’m starting to see the rewards.

“I’m confident in my body now and able to deal with the training sessions.

“That’s the main thing, you want to be out there.”

He continued: “I’m enjoying it here. I’m coming in every day and I’m happy. I think that is starting to show on the pitch now, too.

“That’s the main thing for me. I’m overwhelmed by that. Especially after last season and being in a dark place with my injuries.”

Villa head into the derby having recorded three wins in five games since Dean Smith replaced Steve Bruce in the managerial hotseat.

Bolasie said: “I’m really looking forward to it and seeing what the stadium is going to be like and what the fans will be like.

“I’ve watched the game on TV before and enjoyed it but I want to see it in the real.

“We need to play the game not the occasion.”

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