Barry Bannan is the latest player to join the Villa Park injury list. The young midfielder limped off in the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham in midweek with a groin injury and is unlikely to recover in time for the trip to Anfield on Monday night. Gerard Houllier was erring on the side of caution as he didn’t want to aggravate the problem which would only deplete his squad further. Speaking in a press conference on Friday, Houllier stated:
“I don’t think Barry will be able to play. I’ve got my doubts because it is a groin strain which he picked up against Birmingham.”
The Villa manager could reveal some good news on the injury front with the likes of Emile Heskey, Marc Albrighton and Nigel Reo-Coker all stepping up their recovery’s. Marc Albrighton, who was in fine form before appendicitis meant that he has missed the last 4 games, is back in training and close to being in contention though Monday’s game may come slightly too soon although Houllier said that “He seems to be doing extremely well.”
A similar scenario for Emile Heskey in that he has trained with the first team for the first time since picking up a knee injury last month. Heskey would no doubt have loved to make the return to Anfield along with Houllier, Friedel, Warnock and McAllister, who will all be battling against their former club on Monday. However, it seems that it may be another week until the striker will be back in with a shout for a start despite the big man doing “some bits” in training on Friday according to his manager.
Nigel Reo-Coker is likely to still be some way off a return although there were encouraging signs for the Villa stand in skipper who began ball work this week after sustaining a knee injury in the 1-1 draw at Fulham. The likes of Stiliyan Petrov, Steve Sidwell and Fabian Delph are looking at returns in the New Year as they are still a long way from full fitness. On a negative note, Villa will be without playmaker Ashley Young for the game with Liverpool after he picked up a fifth yellow card of the season in the clash with the Blues, incurring a one match ban in the process.
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