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Downing sets Christmas comeback for Villa return

England winger Stewart Downing is aiming to make his Aston Villa debut before Christmas. The winger, who made a £12million switch to Villa during the summer, has had the pin removed from his broken foot and is now able to do running work.

The 24-year-old said: "I'll hopefully be back training in mid-November and then looking to play within a month of that.

"The specialist has been telling me what to do from day one. I had been doing straight line running because I couldn't do twisting and turning.

"But I can do a bit of that now as well so fitness-wise it's just a case of building things up.

"The toughest bit was the first bit when I was on crutches but now the hard work is done and all those long days slogging away in the gym have been worth it.

"Having the pin removed was a big part of my recovery because that would show it (the foot) was fully recovered. Now it is just a case of stepping things up."

Downing suffered the injury in a clash with Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov at the Riverside Stadium.

He said: "I was going to give the pin to Stiliyan but I have already given him enough stick and made him feel guilty."

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