Curtis Davies' hopes of finally forcing his way into the Aston Villa side for the forthcoming festive programme have suffered an injury setback.
The former West Brom player sustained a broken nose in training at the club's Bodymoor Heath complex on Friday.
Davies had been earmarked to be on the substitutes' bench for Saturday's Premier League clash at Sunderland but did not travel to the Stadium of Light.
Central defender Davies has still to start a league game for Villa since his loan move from The Hawthorns in August in a deal which will become permanent next summer.
The former England Under-21 player admitted he performed like 'a pub player' when making his first start for Villa in the home Carling Cup clash with Leicester in late September.
But Villa boss Martin O'Neill has admitted Davies is 'getting closer' to a senior breakthrough after impressive performances in the reserves.