Aston Villa injury update: Jores Okore closing in on return

Carlo Ancelotti with Remi Garde

Manager Remi Garde has provided an injury update on his squad ahead of Saturday's clash with Everton at Goodison Park.

Aston Villa centre-back Jores Okore is close to making his first-team comeback after a six-month injury absence, manager Remi Garde has revealed ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton.

Okore, 23, has not played any senior football since the 4-0 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal in May after undergoing a knee operation in the summer, but he is now back in full training and has even made two starts for Villa’s Under-21s since late September, while also appearing as an unused substitute in last month's 2-1 Capital One Cup loss at Southampton.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Garde expressed his delight at the Danish defender's recent progress after getting the chance to work with him for the first time at length during the recent international break, but he also stressed that the weekend’s game at Goodison Park has come too soon for him to be involved.

“Jores is one of the players who are fighting to get fit again,” said Garde. “He’s had many training sessions and is coming along slowly, but he is surely near the first-team.

“Seven players were missing [during the international break] but I was really pleased to have players like Jores and Tiago [Ilori] back – players that I didn’t know very well, to be fair.

“I got a lot of interesting information during that week and we had some quite good sessions, so I learned a lot.”

Unfortunately, the international break also saw Villa suffer a major injury blow with Jordan Amavi, who ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during France Under-21s’ 1-0 win over Northern Ireland last week.

The summer signing from Nice is now set to miss the rest of the season, meaning Kieran Richardson will likely step in at left-back until at least the January transfer window, when Garde could look to bring in a replacement from elsewhere.

“It’s a huge blow because Jordan Amavi has done very well since he signed for this club,” added the Villa boss. “Unfortunately, when players leave for international duty you’re always scared as a manager that one or two will come back injured.

“But Jordan Ayew has scored a goal and is probably coming back with huge confidence, and Ciaran Clark has qualified for the Euros. They are coming back stronger.”

Villa’s only other current injury concerns are with strikers Rudy Gestede and Gabby Agbonlahor, as the former faces a late fitness test ahead of the Everton game after picking up a knock while with the Benin squad, while the latter continues to deal with the nagging calf problem that has plagued him for several weeks.

“I’m still waiting for Carlos Sanchez and Brad Guzan – the other players came back without major problems, only a little bit tired,” Garde told “We don’t have much time between games before travelling to Everton. It’s the same for Everton – this is the way football is now.”

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