By Dan Harrison
Alex McLeish has been boosted ahead of Saturday's clash against Sunderland with several key players set to declare themselves fit for the Villa Park showdown.
The Villa boss hopes to welcome back Marc Albrighton and Chris Herd, while Ciaran Clark has recovered after suffering a head injury in defeat at Manchester United.
Stephen Warnock also has a chance of returning to the squad after missing the trip to Old Trafford with an ankle injury.
"Marc has not trained yet with the group," said McLeish.
"But it's likely that he'll train on Thursday and he'll be available.
"Ciaran has got a head knock, but he's fine, he's not in the same situation as Herdy was.
"But Herdy is now looking quite good as well and they should both train on Thursday.
"Herdy's stopped seeing stars and he's fine. Fingers crossed he's available for the weekend.
"Stevie is training with the physios at the moment.
"He's still got a wee bit of puffiness in his ankle but he said he was feeling quite good.
"Striking the ball I think was the test. He didn't feel any pain kicking so there's a good sign.
"If they can work on getting the fluid out of his ankle then I would like to think he's got a chance of making the squad for the weekend."
McLeish revealed Charles N'Zogbia and Carlos Cuellar are pushing for places in the starting line-up having looked sharp in training.
Both players were named on the bench against United after returning from injury lay-offs.
"Charles has looked much sharper having been out for a few weeks before," the manager said.
"He had a great session on Tuesday and he looked on fire, so hopefully he can come back and stake his claim.
"It was sharpness and match fitness he was lacking before which happens when you're out for a few weeks.
"You can work on it on the training ground and the fitness coach will do the short sharp sprint sessions to get the players right.
"We had a game on Monday and Charles looked as sharp as I'd seen him.
"Carlos is fit. We were thinking of putting him on in the game against Stoke but he didn't quite feel ready.
"It was just as one or two were starting to go down.
"He'd only had a couple of training days, but now he's trained every day and he's in contention."
Meanwhile, there is positive news on Richard Dunne, who hasn't featuring since suffering a broken collarbone against Manchester City in February.
"Richard is training well. He's in the capable hands of the physio and Adrian Lamb is taking him from time to time," McLeish added.
"But he's running freely with no pain in the shoulder so the healing process is just about there.
"It might be holding him back that's the problem but it's a happy problem.
"I don't think he's too far away from joining the group."
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