ASTON VILLA boss Paul Lambert is hoping Richard Dunne will be able to return to first-team duty for a couple of games at "the tail end" of December and ruled him out of Ireland's friendly with Greece on November 14.
"He is feeling a lot better, he might get the tail end of the year," said Lambert.
"He is still not training but hopefully he will start very shortly.
"It is in his groin area, we have got it looked at again and that is sorted.
"He had the surgery and went back in to have a look again and got it done."
Dunne was linked with a move to Stoke City before the window closed and the new Villa manager admitted he has seen very little of the 33-year-old defender.
"He has hardly trained with us because of the Euros," Lambert said. "I have not seen too much of him at all since I have been here.
"When you lose any player through injury without seeing him, it is not easy.
"He has been over the course before so he knows what it is like."
Dunne's international team-mate Ciaran Clark has proved an ideal replacement but the youngster missed last week's Premier League clash at Fulham with a knee injury picked up on international duty.
However, Villa will be struggling in defence as the young centre-back is unlikely to be fit in time for their home clash with Norwich today. He is expected to be back to first-team action in the next fortnight.