Gareth Barry’s determination to make Aston Villa’s weekend derby with West Bromwich Albion should see him come through a fitness scare.
The club’s influential stand-in captain missed Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Gillingham with a groin injury.
The England international has undergone scans, the results of which will be known within the next couple of days.
Villa manager Martin O’Neill said: “We will assess the results of the scans but the fact is Gareth is desperate to play.”
Villa will also be boosted by the return of two other key players who missed the victory at the Priestfield Stadium. Gabriel Agbonlahor has shrugged off a sickness bug whilst Luke Young, who had a tight hamstring, will return at left-back.
O’Neill says he is “hopeful” the versatile defender will be fit for Saturday’s early kick-off.
The Villa boss also has a much more positive outlook towards his other absentees, although neither Carlos Cuellar (hamstring) or Martin Laursen (knee) will make the derby.
Both centre-backs are making progress but have been undergoing some running at the club’s Bodymoor Heath training complex this week after picking up the injuries during the win at West Ham before Christmas.
Their recoveries, and particularly Laursen’s, will come as a huge boost to O’Neill who has been reliant on Zat Knight and Curtis Davies to fill the void.
Their recoveries will also have played a part in a vehement denial by O’Neill yesterday to a supposed £11million interest in former Birmingham City defender Mathew Upson. A morning report suggested Villa had seen an offer rejected by West Ham for the England defender.
But manager Martin O’Neill insisted that there had been no such move to bring in Upson: “There is not an ounce of truth in it whatsoever,” he said.
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