Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has revealed that centre-back Jores Okore could soon be in line to see some first-team action following his prolonged absence from the lineup.
Having signed from F.C. Nordsjælland last summer for around £4 million, Okore made just four appearances during his first season at the club before rupturing his ACL in a game against Newcastle United on 14 September.
He managed to return to the pitch during Villa’s pre-season preparations, however, before going on to feature for both the club’s under-21 side and the Danish national team as a 67th-minute substitute in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Armenia earlier this month.
Nevertheless, despite Ron Vlaar’s absence through injury in recent weeks, the 22-year-old is still to make his first-team comeback, with summer signing Philippe Senderos being paired with either Nathan Baker or Ciaran Clark for the past three games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
However, while Lambert insists that he still needs time to fully recover and get up to full speed, Saturday's home clash against Manchester City could see the eight-times capped international come into contention.
'He needs games and will play a part in a game very shortly,' he told the Birmingham Mail.
'Whether Denmark play him or not, though, remains to be seen.'
Next weekend's match also ends a recent daunting run of fixtures which will have seen Villa pitted against four genuine title contenders, and Lambert has been impressed with how his side have acquitted themselves so far.
'We are in a run of games where it’s really tough but we’ve certainly played well enough,' he said.
'I’ve seen Chelsea score six at Everton. That’s how good they are. They can rip you open at any time. All credit to the team.
'If you come away with your confidence still intact, it’s half the battle.
'If someone had said to me that we’d take a point from Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, I’d have taken it. That’s the reality of it, but the lads have been excellent for us.'
Having been most fans' fist-choice option to partner Vlaar in the heart of defence at the start of the season, it remains to be seen whether Okore will indeed feature against the Premier League holders but, given his undoubted promise, it surely can't be long before he forces his way into the picture for significant minutes.