David O'Leary says defender Martin Laursen's chances of being available for pre-season training after his long-term knee injury will not be determined until early April.
Laursen is undergoing rehabilitation in Italy after having surgery in September following persistent knee problems since his £3 million move from AC Milan in the summer of 2004.
The Danish international has been optimistic about joining in with his team-mates when they report for the next campaign in July.
But O'Leary is more cautious and believes the picture will only become clearer when Laursen starts jogging in three months time.
The Villa manager had predicted in December that it would be another 12 months before Laursen would be ready for a first-team comeback.
He said: "It would be brilliant if Martin is back for pre-season.
"He is having rehab in Italy after his operation in America.
"He is going to start jogging at the start of April and then we will see how things go.
"If he starts getting pain straight away it will be a case of pulling back.
"I think in April, when he does some weight-bearing work on the knee, we will have an idea of how he is progressing and what the reaction is.
"We will get a better idea of a time-scale for him then. If he is not feeling any reaction or pain, he will step up the running and go down that road."
Midfielder Patrik Berger will start light jogging next week after having to rest his knee problem.
Berger, signed from Portsmouth on a free transfer last summer, has not featured for Villa since the end of October.
O'Leary said: "Berger is coming up to six weeks of complete rest.
"It's going to be the same type of thing as with Martin Laursen in starting him on a slow jogging progress next week and then seeing what happens with that."