Carew nears Villa return

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. 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.