MILE Jedinak's last ditch push to prove his fitness for next week's World Cup qualifier in Honduras has gained considerable momentum.
The Socceroos captain finally made his return from a groin injury for Aston Villa on Monday morning and was lauded by coach Steve Bruce for his 30-minute cameo in the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City.
Jedinak's appearance was the first he has made since lasting just 45 minutes against Middlesbrough on September 12.
The 33-year-old has been dogged by injury for the best part of a year.
He played just one of Australia's five games in June before departing the squad for groin surgery and has not been seen in national colours since.
The Middlesbrough game was the only other time the midfielder has featured for Villa this season.
But with Ange Postecoglou set to announce his final 23-man squad for the Honduras games in the coming days, his timing could not be better - especially with fellow midfielder Mark Milligan suspended for the first leg in San Pedro Sula next Saturday.
Villa plays Preston North End on Thursday morning and Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday morning before the international break.
"He was excellent," Bruce said.
"He nullified their physical threat. I thought he was excellent when he came on - he did very, very well."
And in more positive news on the injury front, crucial central defender Trent Sainsbury played another 90 minutes as Jiangsu Suning defeated Beijing Guoan 1-0.
Sainsbury has also been battling groin problems since the Confederations Cup, but Sunday night's Chinese Super League match was the second in a row in which he was able to play a full game.
Elsewhere, left back Aziz Behich scored an absolute scorcher in Bursaspor's 4-0 defeat of Antalyaspor in the Turkish Super Liga.
In the opening minute of the second half Behich latched on to a ball that was cleared from a corner, lashing a left-footed volley from well outside the box that nestled close to the top right corner. He came off in the 88th minute, but was not injured.
Fellow left back Alex Gersbach started on the bench for Rosenborg against Stabaek, but was thrust in at the 22nd minute for Anders Konradsen.
Another winger, Craig Goodwin, also came off the bench for a half-hour cameo for Sparta Rotterdam in its 2-1 win over Ajdin Hrustic's Groningen, but Hrustic didn't play.
Mat Ryan helped ensure Brighton and Hove Albion secured another English Premier League point in its 1-1 draw with Southampton.
But fellow goalkeepers Mark Birighitti (NAC Breda) and Mitch Langerak (Levante) didn't play, while defender Matt Jurman (Suwon Bluewings) is still out suspended.
Striker Tomi Juric came on at half time for Luzern, while Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Jimmy Jeggo (Sturm Graz), Awer Mabil (Pacos de Ferreira) all played full 90 minutes.
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