Laursen set for Old Trafford return

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Aston Villa skipper Martin Laursen has been pencilled in to make his first team comeback from injury in the Barclays' Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on April 5.

The 31-year-old has not featured since the home encounter with West Brom on January 10 after which he underwent knee surgery.

Villa manager martin O'Neill said: "Martin is making good progress at the moment and he is deadly keen to play again. After the Liverpool game (on March 22), he has got that extra fortnight to get ready because he no longer plays international football so you are probably looking at the Manchester United game."

He added: "Everyone knows how well he has done for us during the past couple of seasons and it will be good to have as many players available as possible for the run-in."

O'Neill will also monitor the fitness of left-back Wilfred Bouma during Villa's short break abroad later this week in Dubai before deciding whether he can return against Tottenham on March 15.

The Dutch international made his first competitive appearance for nearly eight months since dislocating his ankle in a reserve meeting with Chelsea on Monday when he completed 90 minutes.

O'Neill said: "I'm really pleased he got through that game. Psychologically it was great for him. He's still a bit rusty but has got a good attitude and wants to be involved in the final three months of the season.

"Will he feature against Tottenham? We will see. He will come abroad with us and we will be able to monitor him very closely. He will step up his training and physical work and get really sharp."

O'Neill is hoping the five day break will enable his side to recharge their batteries for the final 10 League games of the season.

He said: "We're going to get away to try and refresh, get a bit of sun on our backs for a day or two then come back and be ready for the last 10 games."

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Tottenham Hotspur
West Bromwich Albion
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Manchester United
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