Cole fitness boost ahead of Palace game

Joe Cole appears primed to be available after injury for Aston Villa's Premier League game against Crystal Palace on New Year's Day.

The former England midfielder has been out of action for almost a month with a hamstring problem, but is back in training as he bids to put a stuttering start to his Villa career behind him.

Cole has made just four league appearances for Villa, two of which came off the bench, since joining as a free agent. 

"Joe trained so he's back in the fray," confirmed Villa boss Paul Lambert on Monday. 

Villa are also boosted by the news that defender Nathan Baker is poised to return to training after overcoming a knee injury sustained at the start of November.

Ahead of the Palace clash at Villa Park, Lambert is keeping close tabs on Tom Cleverley (bruised foot and fatigue) and Ciaran Clark (back).