Martin Jol reckons Mahamadou Diarra’s quick recovery from a knee injury is “almost a miracle”.

The Mali midfielder could feature for Fulham against Aston Villa on Saturday – barely a month after Jol feared he could miss most of the season.

Diarra’s rehabilitation after surgery has gone without a hitch, and his manager said: “He is almost a miracle, you know? I thought it would be a bit longer.

“He needed an operation and, having said that, he is still coming back. He will be involved.”

Diarra faces competition for a midfield place from a rejuvenated Steve Sidwell, whose injury problems led him to consider retirement earlier this year.

Jol said: “I think he is the old Steve Sidwell, so he is an important member of our squad. He has got a certain type of quality. We’ve got good footballers but he is one that is complete and good without the ball as well.”