Dean Smith confirmed to Birmingham Live that Axel Tuanzebe has returned to training ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Nottingham Forest. The Aston Villa defender has been sidelined with a foot injury since mid-December, missing 14 Championship games after fracturing his metatarsal.
The Midlands outfit were enduring a defensive crisis at the time of his injury which resulted in Smith recalling Tommy Elphick from his loan spell at Hull City, loaning Kortney Hause from Wolverhampton Wanderers and loaning Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth in the January transfer window.
According to Smith, Tuanzebe isn’t expected to be available against Forest (March 13) or Middlesbrough (March 16) but could face Blackburn Rovers (March 30). He said on Sunday: “Axel Tuanzebe will return to the grass (Monday). (He) won’t be ready for Wednesday or Saturday but I expect (him) to be available for the Blackburn game.”
The 21-year-old has made 21 appearances in all competitions since re-joining Villa on loan from Manchester United. His last outing for the Claret and Blues was against Stoke City on December 15, 2018. Smith won’t want to rush him back, but with Elphick and James Chester both injured Tuanzebe could provide balance as the only available right-footed centre-back.
Villa are currently ninth in the Championship with 51 points from 36 games this season, coming off the back of consecutive wins without conceding.
Crippy Cooke’s previous article