Aston Villa defender Carlos Cuellar is targeting a first team return after a five-month injury layoff.

The 30-year-old Spaniard has been out of action since April, battling to regain fitness from an operation to repair torn meniscus in the problematic right knee.

His recovery took another positive step Monday, when Cuellar played 45 minutes in the 1-0 reserve team win over Chelsea, and the former Rangers star admits it is great to be back in action.

"It feels so good to be back. It has been frustrating because it has been a long time," he told the official Villains website.

"You are watching the game from the box in the crowd and sometimes you feel like you are going to jump on to the pitch because you need to play.

"Now I feel like a player again and the feeling is so good. It was great to complete 45 minutes and I feel fine. The muscle is strong and I'm so happy because I feel like I did when I was younger."

Next on the agenda for the versatile defender, who can play both centre back and right back, is another second string apperance, this time against loacl rivals Wolves next Tuesday.




Cuellar doesn't want to spend long with the reserve team though, and is eager to prove to manager Alex McLeish that he's ready to fight for his place in the first team at Villa Park soon.

"The plan was to play 45 minutes here and then another game next week, then keep building it up," he continued.

"You have to be careful - you feel excited because it is your first game in a long time and sometimes you are not sure if you are going to be good because it is a long time since you have felt the emotion of playing. After the game I felt good and I am so happy with my first 45 minutes.

"Now I've got to try and build my fitness up and get back into the first team. I am ready to try and fight and get a place."

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Carlos Cuellar
Aston Villa