Aston Villa striker Libor Kozak has told the club’s official website of his goal to impress new manager Tim Sherwood over the final months of the season as he bids to get back into the first-team picture.
Kozak, 25, has been out of action for 13 months since breaking his leg in training last season, with his initial comeback date set for last October.
Complications in the healing process forced him to undergo a second operation, however, pushing his return back several months and prompting the since-departed Paul Lambert to declare the whole ordeal “a nightmare” at the time.
The Czech Republic international has since made significant progress in his rehab, though, and is now back training with the Under-21s, with Sherwood optimistic that he could see competitive action before the end of the season.
“It’s non-contact and it’s with the U21 squad,” the Villa manager told the Birmingham Mail before last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to Stoke. “They are tailoring the sessions for him, which is good.
“We are looking forward to seeing him, perhaps before the end of the season which would be good.”
Kozak stresses that he has to be cautious in his comeback bid after such a long absence, but remains eager to help the club in their relegation scrap over the coming months after receiving such great support, including from Sherwood.
“It’s very nice that he said he’s waiting,” the forward said. “I want to pay back his trust and get back on the pitch. He’s very positive. He motivates us, so hopefully we can have a good end to the season.
“For everybody it’s a new opportunity and new motivation. For me, I’m just thinking about being about 100 per cent fit and, when I am, to show my quality.
“Now I’m training with the Under-21s and I feel good,” he added. “Now I can go on the pitch and do a full training session so I hope I’m close to putting back on the shirt.”
Kozak arrived at Villa from Lazio in September 2013 for €6.5 million, before going on to score four times in his first 15 games in all competitions until finding himself on the receiving end of Ciaran Clark’s leg-breaking challenge in training.
With the club in 19th-place in the table with just 12 fixtures remaining, and their 13 goals from 26 matches putting them on course to be the Premier League’s lowest-ever scorers, his potential return would serve as a much-needed boost to their survival hopes.