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Villa set target of December return for Downing

Aston Villa boss martin O'Neill is optimistic that £12million summer signing Stewart Downing will be available by the end of December, reports the Birmingham Mail. The England winger has been sidelined since breaking his foot in April but has got the green light to join in with full training from next week and his availability would be a big lift to a Villa squad currently ravaged by injuries.

O'Neill said: "Downing has done a bit of training and had some very good news from the specialist the other day.

"He has got the go-ahead to train and try and mix in with the lads.

"It will be like a pre-season for him because he has been out since the end of April and the news is very encouraging.

"He has got a great attitude and, hopefully, we will see the best out of him before Christmas and, by the end of the month, he might be in real decent shape.

"He is doing ball work now and he can join in with us next week when we can really push him on a bit."

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