Bouma boost for Villa
Defender ready to step up bid for first team return
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: February 2, 2010 2:00pm
Bouma: Nearing comeback
Aston Villa's forgotten man Wilfred Bouma is finally closing in on a return to first team action.
"This is now the third time on the comeback trail so hopefully it's third time lucky and I've got everything bad out of the way and behind me."
Wilfred Bouma Quotes of the week
The Holland international has endured a nightmare 18 months on the sidelines but made significant strides towards full fitness after playing 90 minutes for Villa's reserves on Monday.
And the 31-year-old left-back is confident his injury horrors have finally come to an end.
"I'm very pleased because it was my first game back after a long time out," said Bouma, who played the entirety of the second string's win over the Chelsea reserves at Villa Park.
"I've only been back in training for 10 days so I was delighted with what I could do last night.
"Before the game we had said if I could get an hour it would be great and anything more would be even better, so to play the whole 90 minutes I'm very pleased.
"I felt great. I've been here before but it's always great to be back out on the pitch.
"You have to get back to full match fitness and just take it a little bit easy.
"But you can't really take it easy because sometimes you will need to go in as hard as you can on the pitch. That's exactly what I did and thankfully I came out of it okay."
Third time lucky
Bouma has not played a first-team game since dislocating his ankle in an Intertoto Cup clash with BK Odense in July 2008.
The defender's initial comeback stalled in March after three reserve games when suffering a reaction to the ankle setback.
Then in October he played a reserve game only to sustain a toe problem which has ruled him out until this month.
With Stephen Warnock out with a shin problem and Nicky Shorey now on loan at Fulham until the end of the season, Luke Young is the only option for Villa in the left-back role apart from Bouma.
And boss Martin O'Neill will be desperate for the former PSV player to step up his fitness in the coming weeks with crucial fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester United on the horizon.
Bouma hopes he will be able to answer his manager's call as Villa look to defy the odds and grab a UEFA Champions League spot for next season.
"I'm really, really happy," he added. "This is now the third time on the comeback trail so hopefully it's third time lucky and I've got everything bad out of the way and behind me."