Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce has been boosted by the return of defender Ritchie De Laet ahead of Villa’s pre-season campaign.

The Villans have been without the defender since he suffered a serious knee injury in September during the 1-1 draw with Brentford.

The 28-year-old was making only his third appearance for the Club after making a transfer from Leicester worth £2.5m.

Since the injury, De Laet has now undergone surgery on the damaged knee ligaments and has experienced a long period of recovery.

The defender – who can play anywhere across the backline or in central midfield – confirmed on his Twitter account that he would be back in time for pre-season, but was unsure whether Steve Bruce would throw him straight into first-team action.

But it could be suggested that De Laet may become a rotation player with it known that Bristol City’s Aden Flint and Barnsley captain Marc Roberts both wanted by the Birmingham club.

Another player that Bruce regards highly is Barnsley’s Josh Scrowen. The 24-year-old midfielder rejected the chance to sign a new contract at Oakwell. But Bruce will need to fight off competition from plenty of other clubs, with Villa Park just one of numerous potential destinations for Scrowen.

In an end-of-season tournament, a youthful Villans squad were defeated by Leicester 3-0 in the final of the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens tournament.

Villa defeated Cagliari and Marseille on their way to the competition’s final, but they could not be victorious title holders for the seventh time as the Foxes won 3-0.

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