Morgan Sanson is in contention to make his return from injury when Aston Villa visit Chelsea on Saturday, alongside Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore, per Birmingham Live.

Dean Smith has been without Sanson since April, when forced to replace the Frenchman against Fulham. The Villans boss was initially unsure how long the midfielder would miss. But he had to sit out the final nine games of last term and all summer with his knee issue.

Sanson is now finally in contention for first-team minutes again after a 45-minute run out with the U21s last week. He could feature at Stamford Bridge alongside summer signing Bailey for the first time, too, while Traore is also pencilled in for a role in west London.

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Sanson will be desperate to get going against Chelsea after a stuttered start to life with Aston Villa. The 27-year-old only made nine appearances with the club following a £16m January transfer from Marseille before his season ended.

The former U21 international also only started three Premier League fixtures last season. As Smith elected to slowly introduce the Saint-Doulchard-born box-to-box maestro to his plans at Villa Park. But injury ultimately took chances for further outings away prematurely.

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Smith may also have Bailey and Traore at his disposal, as the forwards have now recovered from hamstring injuries. Bailey missed the Villans’ meetings with Newcastle and Brentford after feeling an issue in training. Traore sustained his issue during a friendly with Liverpool.

Smith expects big things from Sanson on Aston Villa injury return

Smith expects Sanson will occupy a big role in the Aston Villa squad upon his long-awaited return, potentially against Chelsea. The 50-year-old is yet to see his winter addition at his best, given his lengthy spell out. But he has had the international break to gain fitness.

“He’s a good player,” Smith said of Sanson, via Birmingham Live, at the end of last month. “A good character, but he’s had a knee injury that’s taken an awful lot of time and longer than we expected [to heal]. But he’ll be a big player for us. He just needs games now. He’s trained with us full-time, but he just needs minutes now to get up to speed.”

Smith additionally backed Sanson as a ‘big game’ player, via the Express and Star, following his move to Aston Villa. Adding: “He is a great technician and has great tactical awareness. He can play in a number of positions, can set up goals and can score goals. He has a bit of everything in his game. So, we’re really pleased with the acquisition.”