Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has targeted a return to action for the derby clash with Birmingham at St Andrew's on January 16.
The Bulgarian international has been sidelined since late October with a knee problem suffered against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
But midfielder Petrov is stepping up his rehabilitation work and hopes to return to full training in the next couple of weeks - and then be back in contention to play in a further fortnight.
Petrov said: 'It has been a painful experience for me. Throughout my career, I've never missed too many games through injury and it's not something I've enjoyed.
'I just have to be patient for a little longer but my knee is now well and truly on the mend.
'I've really stepped up my work rate recently and I'm looking to be back in training within the next couple of weeks.
'Then I aim to be pushing for a recall within 10 days or maybe a couple of weeks of returning to training.
'With a bit of luck, I will be back for the derby away to Birmingham in mid-January.'
Villa have been decimated by injuries in the centre of midfield with Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell also enduring lengthy lay-offs.
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