By Paul Brown
John Carew is set for a return to the Villa squad for Sunday's Second City derby - and might even figure in the starting line-up.
Manager Gerard Houllier has been impressed with Carew's efforts in training this week and looks set to turn to the powerful forward for the big Blues clash.
He said: "Unfortunately we go into the derby without Ashley and Emile. That's a blow.
"But John did extremely well this week in training. I think he will be involved at some stage in the game - maybe he will start, I will see.
"He looked fine. He wasn't ready before because he had to battle through a lot of injuries and when we had the snow he was stuck in Norway.
"Now the pitches are better and his fitness level is better as well."
Houllier is looking for three points - to help Villa move up the top-flight table and to give fans derby day delight.
He continued: "We and the players are aware this is an opportunity to please our fans and to give them some good stuff.
"Like them, we are hurt and not happy with the position we are in at this moment in the Premier League.
"This game is another incentive to do well, first of all because it is a derby and for the fans it is very important. But also because we don't want to stay in the position we are. We know that. It is a challenge and we need to get out of this position as soon as possible.
"It is a derby. It is a different ball game as everyone knows. There will be a lot of events and commitment. It will be fierce at times.
"But at the same time it will be something the two sets of fans will relish."
The manager insists the FA Cup win over Sheffield United has given the team a confidence boost ahead of the Blues clash.
He added: "The FA Cup gives you two weeks in the drop zone but it gave us a good boost for the preparation for the derby."
Watch Villa take on high-flying Manchester City - click here.