Aston Villa boss Remi Garde full of praise for fit-again Jores Okore

Rémi Garde

The 23-year-old centre-back made his first senior appearance of the season in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Southampton after undergoing a knee operation in the summer.

Jores Okore may have only featured once for Aston Villa this season due to summer knee surgery, but new manager Remi Garde seems to be a big fan of the Danish defender.

Speaking to AVTV about the fit-again centre-back, who made his first senior appearance of the campaign as a starter in the weekend’s 1-1 draw at Southampton, Garde was quick to hail his performance and praised the competitive spirit he has seen from him in training since taking over the club last month.

“He gives spirit like a warrior,” the Frenchman said of Okore. "Jores gives the spirit you want - like a warrior. It was not easy for him since the [FA Cup] final because he's had some problems with his knees. It's never easy.

"But I discovered Jores as a competitor as soon as I came to the training ground. I am happy for him and for the team, also. He did very well in the last game.

"It's good - good for the team. Before competing with the opponent, you have to have this kind of competition between your own players because it's important that they feel that everybody can be useful for the team."

 2015-16 Premier League Total TacklesTotal ClearancesDuels WonDuels LostInterceptionsTotal PassesPassing AccuracyDispossessedMins Played
Jores Okore 3 5 4 1 1 13 77% 0 90

Okore, 23, had not played any first-team football since May until Saturday’s clash with Southampton, having undergone a knee operation following the 4-0 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal after fighting through the pain barrier during last season’s run-in.

However, the Denmark international had made a handful of appearances for Villa’s Under-21s since late September, and with Ciaran Clark suspended and Micah Richards out injured for the trip to the south coast, Garde opted to hand him his first senior run-out in six months.

He proceeded to put in a strong performance alongside centre-back partner Joleon Lescott to help the visitors earn a respectable point, but with Clark back for the weekend's visit of Arsenal and Richards also expected to be fit, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to keep his place in the line-up.

A £4 million signing from Danish Superliga side FC Nordsjaelland in June 2013, the eight-time capped defender has seen injuries hamper his progress in the Midlands so far, having missed most of his first season with cruciate knee ligament damage, but he did impress when handed an extended run in former boss Tim Sherwood's side last term before being sidelined again in the summer.

With Lescott and Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori also fighting for minutes, there is strong competition at centre-back, but given Garde’s latest comments, it sounds like the promising stopper will get a chance to establish himself in the team over the coming weeks – providing he can keep off the treatment table.

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