Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker could be back in action within the next fortnight, having been able to undertake some running after missing Villa's last four matches with a knee problem.
The former England Under-21 captain had been made Villa's temporary captain by manager Gérard Houllier in the absence of Stiliyan Petrov. But he has not played since the league match at Fulham on 6 November and the armband has been worn by the defender Richard Dunne. Houllier confirmed: "Nigel has done some running. Maybe in two weeks he'll be back."
Villa have been particularly hit by injuries in midfield, with Steve Sidwell out of action in addition to Reo-Coker and Petrov. It is an area Houllier will look to bolster next month. "It's definitely in midfield we need to buy one or two player," he said.
Reo-Coker, who is in the final year of his contract, was given few opportunities during the last year of Martin O'Neill's reign as manager at Villa. But the £8.5m signing from West Ham was brought back into the side by Houllier and had played eight successive matches before his injury.
The Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy, insists there was no falling-out with the defender Jelle Van Damme who has ended his spell at the club after just five months. Van Damme has returned to Belgium, moving to Standard Liège in a £2.5m deal – the same fee Wolves paid when signing him from Anderlecht in the summer. The Belgian international failed to settle and McCarthy felt there was no point in retaining his services, although he cannot play for Liège until 1 January.
McCarthy said: "There was no point [in holding Van Damme]. When someone moves, why does it always have to the case that someone has fallen out? He is a good player and sometimes it just doesn't work out. This was one of those occasions. He came, he started in the team, he got injured in his first game and things haven't worked out for him personally.
"He had his family life and sometimes all those little things add up to the fact that it just doesn't work out and that's what happened. I moved myself to play in France and, although I was blissfully happy, I came back to Millwall because I wasn't playing.
"I like Jelle and, when he played, he gave his all. But, if he wants to go back, then even if there is 1 per cent not totally committed to it, why would I continue to play him when I've got lads who are totally committed?"
Wolves have suffered an injury setback with the veteran defender Jody Craddock ruled out until the new year while winger Michael Kightly faces further knee surgery.
Craddock had been pencilled in to return to full training this week after missing eight games with the hip and thigh setback suffered against West Ham in mid-October. But he started to suffer further discomfort and another scan has shown the injuries are worse than first feared. The 35-year-old, Wolves' player of the year for the 2009-2010 campaign, will be sidelined for another six to eight weeks.
Kightly has already had a lengthy spell out of action following knee surgery but now needs another operation on his other knee to relieve inflammation of his patella tendon.
McCarthy said: "Jody is going to be out for quite a while. It could be six to eight weeks. It's still his hip and thigh that is the problem. It's been bothering him so he's had it scanned again and there's a tear in it. He's got to have some treatment on it but it's far worse than we thought. He won't be fit until after Christmas. It's a big blow for us and for him as well. He was playing really well before this setback."
Kightly will have surgery on 12 December. "The knee he's had done is great so he's having the other one done," McCarthy said.
The only consolation for McCarthy is that his captain, Karl Henry, will be back available sooner than anticipated after suffering medial knee ligament damage against Blackpool. It was feared the midfielder could be unavailable for two months. But McCarthy said: "Karl is more likely to be out for four to six weeks from when he did it."