Bouma closes on first team return after 18 month lay-off

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Wilfred Bouma is hoping his 18-month injury misery is finally behind him after making another comeback for Aston Villa.

The Holland international has not played a first-team game since dislocating his ankle in an Intertoto Cup clash with BK Odense in July 2008.

Now he has completed 90 minutes for the reserves and is keeping his fingers crossed his troubles are behind him as he said: "I felt great. I've been here before but it's always great to be back out on the pitch. You have to get back to full match fitness and just take it a little bit easy."

He added: "But you can't really take it easy because sometimes you will need to go in as hard as you can on the pitch. That's exactly what I did and thankfully I came out of it okay."

Left-back Bouma's initial comeback stalled in March 2009 after three reserve games when suffering a reaction to the ankle setback.

Then in October he played one reserve game only to sustain a toe problem.

Following Monday night's reserves run out against Chelsea at Villa Park, Bouma added: "I'm very pleased because it was my first game back after a long time out.

"I've only been back in training for 10 days so I was delighted with what I could do last night.

"Before the game we had said if I could get an hour it would be great and anything more would be even better, so to play the whole 90 minutes I'm very pleased.

"I'm really, really happy. This is now the third time on the comeback trail so hopefully it's third time lucky and I've got everything bad out of the way and behind me."

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