Aston Villa injury update: Remi Garde hopeful of Micah Richards return

Rémi Garde

The Villa skipper could be back in action this weekend when West Ham United visit the Midlands after missing the past three games with a knee problem.

Aston Villa captain Micah Richards could be back in the line-up for the weekend’s visit of West Ham United, manager Remi Garde has revealed at his pre-match press conference.

The ex-Manchester City defender has missed Villa’s past three games with a knee injury, with Jores Okore and Joleon Lescott partnering each other at centre-back in his absence.

However, he is finally nearing a return to full fitness ahead of Saturday’s Boxing Day clash with West Ham, and while Garde stressed that it is still too soon to give a definite answer, he is optimistic about having his skipper available for selection for the game at Villa Park.

"Micah is a little bit improving,” the Frenchman told reporters. "I won't know until the end of the week.

"It is early in the week so it's difficult for me to give more information than that."

In addition, Garde also noted that he has not been pleased with the fitness levels of his squad since he took over the club at the start of November after Tim Sherwood was let go following a run of six straight defeats.

Villa currently sit 10 points from safety at the foot of the Premier League after taking only seven points from 17 games and have not won a top-flight match since beating Bournemouth 1-0 in their season opener.

Nevertheless, after recording three draws and three losses in his first six games in charge, Garde believes that improvements have been made under his watch – not least in the fitness department.

"I don't want to judge what happened before but it is just my feeling that we could improve a little bit more in this area of the game because it is very important in this country," he added. "You have a lot of duels. The rhythm of the game is very high, the pace is very high.

"I feel that we have improved a lot. When I arrived, someone told me the team was the last one in terms of runs. I told you I'm not very keen on statistics because you can say one thing and find another statistic that will prove the opposite and I'm very careful with that.

"But, nevertheless, you have to look at it and I know we have improved in this area."

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