Belfast Telegraph

Carew nears a return

Aston Villa striker John Carew has started on the comeback trail after missing the last four matches with a calf problem.

The Norway international played an hour for the reserves in Monday afternoon's clash with West Brom at Bodymoor Heath.

Carew has been Villa's leading scorer for the past three seasons but has failed to find the net during an injury-hit start to the current campaign.

He was troubled by a back problem before being laid low with the calf setback three weeks ago after appearing as a substitute against Birmingham.

It is another boost for Villa boss Gerard Houllier who has to contend with a lengthy injury list since he replaced Martin O'Neill.

Gabriel Agbonlahor recently returned to action after a six week lay-off following groin surgery and Houllier's first signing, Robert Pires, also played for an hour against Albion.

The former Arsenal midfielder had appeared as a second half substitute in Sunday's Premier League clash with Blackburn at Ewood Park.

The two slices of action inside 24 hours are the first for Pires since playing for his previous club, Villarreal, in May.

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