Aston Villa duo Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia are set to return to full fitness before the new season begins.

Forget new signings: these two returning players will be like two brand new signings come the start of next season. We are yet to see much of Okore as he only featured in a handful of games last season and a fully fit N’Zogbia can cause any defence problems on his day.

The Villa faithful are expecting big things from the Danish defender, who will have the opportunity to slot in at the back beside the experienced Ron Vlaar. I would expect the two to line up beside one another in the first game of the new campaign, if Okore gets enough game time during the pre-season campaign and Ron Vlaar does not leave for pastures new, as speculation suggests he will.

I do not want to be overly optimistic as there are problems in every area of the pitch when you look at the Villa squad. However, two of our worst areas have to be the centre of defence and out wide. This is where Okore and N’Zogbia will have to play to their potential and live up to the expectations of many fans.

With N’Zogbia, there is less pressure on his shoulders and a year out with injury might not be as bad as some people think. The Frenchman may come back a new player with a point to prove in what could be his last season in a Villa shirt. If he fails to perform this time round, he will almost certainly be leaving the club.

During his time in claret and blue, there have been glimpses of a good player but inconsistency and laziness on the field have cast shadows over his ability. Will ‘the Zog’ come out of his cage fighting this time round or will we see the same old Charles?

Having seemingly been placed in Lambert’s bomb squad at the beginning of last season, it looks as though N’Zogbia will feature in Paul Lambert’s future plans, with the Villa manager seemingly delighted with the Frenchman’s progress on his return from injury: “Charles has come back from injury and is looking pretty good,” Lambert told the club’s official website. “He is doing great; Charles can definitely be a big player.”

Will Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia prove themselves on their return from injury? We will certainly be hoping for many magic moments from both players if the Villans are to progress as a team.


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