By Paul Brown
Fabian Delph has given Villa a boost after returning to training.
Delph missed the Bolton match after picking up a knee injury in the build-up to the Reebok Stadium clash.
But the all-action midfield ace was a welcome addition at Bodymoor Heath on Tuesday.
Assistant manager Peter Grant said: "Obviously at the weekend we lost Fabian before the game.
"He had a bit of a problem with his knee. It was more of a knock that he got in training but we can't take chances just now going into all these big games.
"You know the Christmas period is so tough. You get very little time to rest so we couldn't afford to lose another body.
"Fabian trained on Tuesday morning. He missed Monday but we're glad to see him back on the training field and he feels a lot better now.
"Last Thursday he had a bit of a knock at the end of training and he started to train on Friday and he was still feeling it a little bit and you could see that in his training.
"So we more or less made the decision for him, because you could see he wasn't moving freely.
"All the players are desperate to play, so great credit to him for coming on to the training pitch, but you could just tell he never had that sharpness about him.
"We just felt it was too important to take a chance on him."
Grant also revealed the management staff are pleased with the progress of right-back Eric Lichaj who has been absent with a hip injury for the past three months.
Lichaj has returned to light training with the physios on schedule as he steps up his bid for fitness.
He added: "Eric's the only one at this moment in time, so we've just got to keep an eye on him.
"But he's getting stronger every day and it's great to see him out on the training field every day, not with us, but with the physios.
"So hopefully it will be the turn of the year when he comes back and he'll be fully fit."
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