ASTON VILLA defender Richard Dunne is poised to return to training later this week after undergoing three operations this season.
Republic of Ireland international Dunne, who is out of contract at Villa this summer, has been sidelined all season by groin and hip problems.
Villa have sorely missed his experience at the heart of their defence, particularly during the absence of captain Ron Vlaar with a calf problem.
It has been a nightmare 12 months for 33-year-old Dunne, who was also out injured for nearly three months with a shoulder problem before returning at the very end of last season.
Villa boss Paul Lambert said: "If you look when Richard did his shoulder, he only came back for a couple of games and then had the groin problem at the Euros.
"He's not played much football for a year, really.
"But the (latest) operation in America was successful and the main thing for everyone is to get him back fit."
Villa's head of European scouting, Michael Henke, is to leave the club next month for a coaching role with German second division outfit FC Ingolstadt.