By Will Butcher

Steve Bruce is optimistic over the availability of Nathan Baker ahead of Aston Villa’s clash against QPR.

The 25-year-old is set to be assessed on Friday morning ahead of Sunday’s trip to Loftus Road, with Villa hopeful that he will take part in training before the Championship clash.

Villa’s official Twitter account claimed that Bruce is hopeful his centre-back will be available for their clash against Ian Holloway’s side.

Baker was withdrawn midway through Villa’s 3-1 win against Cardiff towards the end of November with a groin strain.

Villa’s number two has failed to feature since the muscle injury, missing games against Leeds, Wigan and Norwich while on the sidelines.

Keeping summer signing Tommy Elphick out the side, Baker could now face a fight on his hands as he looks to gain a place in Bruce’s starting XI.

Bruce’s side have suffered a blip in their last three games with losses to Garry Monk’s high flying Leeds and relegated Premier League side Norwich.

The Midlands giants will be hoping the return of Baker could inspire them to a return to winning ways, as they look to close the gap between themselves in the Championship’s top six.

A win for Villa would see them move onto 31 points for the season and move into the top half of the table, if other results go their way.

In other Aston Villa news, David Prutton has predicted the outcome of Sunday’s match.