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Fitness Friday: Which Aston Villa Players Are Set For Saturday

Stephen Ireland is almost certain to return for Villa's match at Fulham, while Ciaran Clark's fitness is in doubt.

Shaun Botterill

Prior to the match at Fulham, Aston Villa have doled out some good news on the injury front. Stephen Ireland, who broke his wrist against Southampton, is likely to be healthy enough for Saturday's match. Joe Bennet's got himself stitched up after tearing open his leg against Tottenham Hotspur, but he's all recovered, which you probably already know if you follow him on twitter since he seems to enjoy posting photos of his gash. Karim El Ahmadi was withdrawn from Morocco's match against Mozambique, but that was just for cramp (by the way, the Atlas Lions qualified for the finals in South Africa, so KEA will be missing when that starts in January).

On the other side of the coin, Paul Lambert has yet to make a decision on Brad Guzan, Brett Holman and Christian Benteke. All were away on international duty, although I'm not sure how much rest Guzan needs in order to recover from watching Tim Howard concede goals. It's Benteke that's the greatest concern -- he started for Belgium against both Serbia and Scotland. But with him scoring in both matches, it's tough to justify his absence. Then again, it's also tough to justify keeping Darren Bent out, so...

Finally, Ciaran Clark has a "slight knock", which I like to think means he fell over and hit his head. Unfortunately it's not that amusing, because he's been one of the strongest in defense for the Villa this season and I'm not sure I want to know how the back line will set up without him. My guess is it would involve the words "Nathan" and "Baker."

So there you have it, boys and girls: Stephen Ireland will almost certainly return on Saturday, although don't get too worried if he's named as a substitute. Lambert looks to have set the stage for starting Bent rather than Benteke. And everyone go say a prayer for Ciaran.