The Villa boss was speaking to the press ahead of Sunday's Championship clash with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
The 25-year-old centre-back made six straight starts after appearing as a substitute in Bruce’s first game in charge against Wolverhampton Wanderers, but he has since missed the past three matches after being forced off at half time of last month’s 3-1 home win over Cardiff City with a groin injury.
He has been preparing to return to full training this week, however, and Bruce is hoping he can come through a late fitness test before the squad head down to London ahead of the match at Loftus Road.
“We will know more about Nathan in the next few hours,” Bruce told reporters at Friday morning’s press conference. “We will see if he’s going to join in this morning. That’s the main concern.
“He could be back in the fold – everything else is as it was.”
Villa currently sit 13th in the Championship table with 28 points from 21 games going into Sunday’s clash with QPR and, despite suffering their second defeat in three matches with Tuesday night’s frustrating 1-0 loss at Norwich City, are still only seven points off the playoff places.
Having seen their form improve dramatically since Bruce replaced Roberto Di Matteo at the helm in October, many expect the club to establish themselves among the promotion favourites over the second half of the season if they can add a few new faces during the January transfer window, but the former Hull City boss has stressed that he does not anticipate doing much business next month.
“January, I envisage, in the Championship will be very, very quiet, as it normally is,” Bruce said at his press conference. “I can’t see there being the huge turnaround that everybody thinks there’s going to be. I simply don’t think that the players are there for sale.
“It’s a difficult time because of the Africa Cup of Nations. We’re losing two or three players for a month. So in that respect it’s very, very difficult. We have to be patient.
“The one thing I’ll never do is buy on impulse,” he continued. “I think we’ve done that too often here. If we can buy a player that can improve the team then great. The lads here already have shown me they’re good enough. 18 points from 10 games is not a bad return. If we can improve on that then great - but what I didn’t want is wholesale changes because we played badly the other night.
“I was disappointed with what we witnessed because I hadn’t seen that. They just needed reminding that I don’t accept a performance like that. What I will do is use the squad. People have been waiting patiently so if I have to change a few things around then I will."
Nevertheless, with reports claiming that Villa are hoping to secure loan deals for both Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and Arsenal right-back Carl Jenkinson [h/t Birmingham Mail], Bruce did admit that he is currently working on bringing two players to the club when the window opens.
“There are one or two that we’ve got ticking away,” he added. “There’s one we’ve verbally agreed on. That looks as if it could happen.
“But as I’ve said, I can’t see there being a big influx or mass exodus either because I don’t think January’s the time when that can be done.”
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