Premier League

Villa suffer Laursen blow

O'Neill does not expect to see defender again this term

Laursen: Knee problem

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Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has admitted defender Martin Laursen is unlikely to feature again this season.

The experienced centre-back has been out of action since the 2-1 win over West Brom on 10th January when he aggravated an existing knee problem.

Laursen had hoped to return and skipper Villa for the closing stages of the campaign with their UEFA Champions League hopes fading fast.

But O'Neill has admitted that the former Denmark international, who has been hampered by knee injuries in the past, is not fit to return.

He told the club's official website: "Martin is struggling. There's not much more to say.

"He'll be struggling to play again before the end of the season."

Strike duo

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is a doubt for Saturday's clash with West Ham after suffering a hamstring injury in the draw against Everton, but fellow forward Emile Heskey could be fit to feature following an Achilles problem.

"Gabby came off the pitch on Sunday with a hamstring niggle. It seems to be getting better. But we are awaiting the results of a scan," O'Neill added.

"At the back of the doctor's mind is a concern that he may have strained it. That would make him doubtful for this weekend's game. He certainly seems to be responding - no doubt about that - but he still remains a doubt for the West Ham match.

"Emile has trained for the last couple of days and that is encouraging for us. It would be good if he could make it for the weekend.

"We will see how he is later in the week because we have a few days yet. But at least he has been out training and he is certainly making progress."

Bouma

Meanwhile, Wilfred Bouma has suffered a slight setback as he continues his recovery from the horrific ankle injury he suffered in the summer.

O'Neill added: "Wilfred has suffered a bit of a setback over the past week. He was doing well - he played in the Tottenham reserve game but his ankle felt sore afterwards.

"He is a little bit uncomfortable at the moment. He hasn't trained but it shouldn't be too bad. I feel he has just had a bit of a setback. We hope it's days rather than weeks."