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No. 35: Charlie Austin, QPR

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By ESPN Staff

Raul aiming for return to action in a month

MADRID, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Real Madrid striker Raul hopes to return to action in a little over a month following his serious knee injury and is confident that he will be ready to lead Spain into the World Cup.

'I don't want to put an exact date on a return and I haven't touched a ball yet, but I think that in a month or so, maybe a little more, I will be back in action,' the 28-year-old told reporters on Wednesday.

'The World Cup seems a little closer now, but the next phase of my recovery programme will be the most crucial. That will be when I get out on the pitch, kick the ball and turn and then we will see how the knee really responds.

'Up until now I haven't experienced any setbacks and it makes me think that everything is going well. I hope to be able to help Real Madrid in the final three months of the season.'

The Spain captain suffered a partial tear of the cruciate ligament and damaged the cartilage in his left knee when he miscued a shot during Real Madrid's 3-0 defeat against Barcelona in November.

Club doctors opted to follow a 'conservative' programme of treatment to deal with the injury rather than surgery in the hope that the player would make a more rapid recovery.

Spain have been drawn alongside Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in Group H in the World Cup.