The Czech striker is back training with the senior squad for the first time in over 13 months since a horrific leg break.
The 25-year-old Czech Republic international was injured during a training session in January last season, but had looked on course to make his comeback in October alongside Christian Benteke, until suffering a significant setback.
With complications in the healing process forcing him to undergo a second operation, the since-departed Paul Lambert declared his fitness battle “a nightmare” at the time, but there now appears to be light on the horizon.
New manager Tim Sherwood revealed last month that the tall front man was back in training with the Under-21s and making good progress, and Kozak has since revealed that he has taken another big step forward in his comeback bid, having completed his first training session with the senior squad in over 13 months.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to make a return to first-team action before the end of the season but, in speaking to the club’s official website a fortnight ago, the eight-time capped Czech stressed his desire to impress Sherwood as soon as possible.
“For everybody it’s a new opportunity and new motivation,” he said. “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. 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.”
After signing from Lazio in September 2013 for €6.5 million, Kozak netted four times in his first 15 games for Villa before suffering the leg break, and his strong presence up top could be a major boost to the club’s survival hopes if he can return for the final run in.
One shouldn’t get expectations too high at this point, but it’s at least fantastic news to see him so close to ending what’s been a challenging period for the former Serie A ace.