Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira says he is back training with the football and nearing a surprise return to action in the coming weeks.
Germany international Khedira, 26, looked set to miss the entire season when he tore knee ligaments on international duty last November, but he could now be back to help Madrid’s challenge for La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, and also play a part for his country at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Speaking from a rehab camp in southern Sicily, the former Stuttgart player told Madrid’s club website he felt he was close to returning to the field of play.
"I feel more like a footballer now, because being here, on a football field, is like being home again," Khedira said. "I can sense that I'm reaching the end of it, I'm close to getting back to the team and that motivates me to keep fighting."
It was difficult spending so much time on the sidelines, Khedira said, but he was confident he could return as a better player.
"It was tough at the beginning," he continued. "I think the first four or five weeks were the most difficult. I was on crutches and couldn't walk... In recent weeks I've been training more comfortably on my knee.
"I'm really happy to be back on the grass, with the ball and running around outside. I have more confidence in my knee now, and I also feel more secure. I feel good.
"After an injury and so much concentration, normally you come back stronger. You can work on your weaker areas and on the things you do well to do them even better."
Dr Olmo of Sanitas-Real Madrid Medical Services was also quoted in the story, saying Khedira would soon reach the final stage of his recovery -- which was to be back training with his teammates.
"We're really happy with Sami," Olmo said. "Since the beginning he has worked eight hours a day visualising his recovery and the results he has had until now are because of his daily work.
"The aim is to get him to finish his footballing career without any problems. We don't want to risk that just so he can play a bit earlier or a bit later.
"We have designed a recovery plan for him, which we have followed closely, in four stages plus a fifth one, which is with the team. He still has to finish the fourth.
"When we're sure he has 100 percent of his muscle strength and control of the knee we'll be able to decide whether he can train with the team."