Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has set his sights on returning to action early in the new year.
The Bulgarian international is hoping to be available for the Carling Cup semi-finals in January - if Villa can overcome Birmingham in Wednesday's tie at St Andrew's.
Petrov has been sidelined with a knee problem since the Barclays Premier League clash at Sunderland in late October. But the midfielder is hoping to step up his rehabilitation work this week.
Petrov said: "It's difficult to say exactly when I will be fit to play again but I'm making steady progress.
"With a bit of luck, I should be back early in the new year. I'm hoping to be able to do some running next week and then it will be a case of seeing how things progress.
"If all goes well, I should be in contention for a recall around the time of the Carling Cup semi-finals.
"I just hope the lads do the business (against Birmingham) and make sure we are involved."
Petrov admits Villa are hungry to go one better than last season when they lost in the final to Manchester United.
He said: "We would all love to go back to Wembley in February and lift the trophy this time.
"The further you go in a competition like this, the hungrier you become for success.
"Overcoming Birmingham will not be easy. They showed against Chelsea last week that, on their day, they are capable of matching the best teams in the country.
"But the same can be said of us as we demonstrated in the draw against Manchester United a couple of weeks ago."