Phillips nears return

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Kevin Phillips is desperate to return to the Aston Villa team for Sunday's match with Birmingham.

The Villa striker has been out for four weeks with a calf injury, but will return to action in a practice game against Notts County in a bid to prove his fitness ahead of the weekend's derby clash.

Phillips has stepped up his training in the last week and is optimistic that he will be ready for the game at St Andrews.

"I trained all last week and didn't suffer any reaction to my calf injury, so things are looking good," Phillips told Aston Villa's official website.

"I volunteered to go in on a day off last week for some extra practice with Kevin MacDonald and some of the kids from the reserves, which was good fun, but hard work too," he added.

"Fingers crossed I should be able to take part in the game against Notts County at Bodymoor, which has been arranged to help the injured players get some match fitness in."

The former Southampton man has endured a slow start to his career at Villa Park, scoring just one goal in his first four games before suffering the injury, but he is itching to get back on the pitch and help his struggling side.

"Being injured is so frustrating, especially when your team isn't doing well and you're powerless to do anything about it," Phillips conceded.