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Nigel de Jong still harbours hopes of returning for this season's Champions League final with Milan after undergoing surgery on his Achilles injury.

The combative midfielder ruptured his Achilles tendon back in December, an blow which was expected to rule him out for the rest of the campaign, but the Dutchman believes his return to action could be sooner than expected.

"Every time I come to the Milanello training camp, I think that I will return for the start of next season, hopefully even for the Champions League Final," he told Milan Channel. "We'll see if I manage it." Milan beat Barcelona 2-0 at the San Siro last week to keep their Champions League dream alive and will be confident of defending their lead at the Camp Nou.

Former Manchester City midfielder, De Jong has not been involved since December but has not let Milan's success without him, get him down.

"These things happen for a reason. This is life. The team is doing well, as we beat Barcelona and have such a young side," he said.

"I am very happy, even if I have been out for nearly three months and there are still a couple to go, but there is progress and I am already walking again. I need to get my muscles back in shape and that could take some time but I am working hard to return to my previous levels."

De Jong had made 12 appearances for Milan in his debut season in Serie A, scoring one goal, before his injury.


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