Herd steps up comeback

Midfielder turns out for reserves after lengthy lay-off

Chris Herd: Appeared to come through reserve outing unscathed

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Aston Villa midfielder Chris Herd has returned to action with the reserves after two-and-a-half months out with ankle ligament damage.

Herd played an hour for Villa's second string against West Brom on Tuesday and came through with no apparent ill-effects.

The Australian-born 22-year-old had established himself as a first-team regular under Alex McLeish and formed an effective partnership alongside Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov.

He had played in seven successive first-team matches, and been rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year contract, before suffering the ankle setback in early December.

Herd's injury also denied him a first cap for the Socceroos after he had been selected for the matches with Oman and Thailand.

Lichaj return

Another up-and-coming Villa player, defender Eric Lichaj, continued his return from injury by playing the full 90 minutes against Albion.

It was his second reserve outing after five months on the sidelines following hip surgery in September.

Lichaj had also made his senior breakthrough before the injury and scored his first Villa goal in the Carling Cup success over Hereford.