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By ESPN Staff

Vassell set to return ahead of schedule

Darius Vassell expects to be back in action for Manchester City by the end of October.

The striker limped out of the home win over Arsenal last month with a knee injury which it was initially suggested could keep him out for up to 12 weeks.

Happily, that diagnosis proved to be wide of the mark, even if the 26-year-old is still some way off making his return.

'It's not as bad as we first thought,' the former England star said. 'The specialist said it could take up to 12 weeks to recover, so I am quite pleased I am not going to be out as long as that.

'I am recovering quite well and I think, in the next three or four weeks, I will be back playing again and hopefully scoring goals.'

Although Vassell was used in a left midfield role against Arsenal, his pace has been badly missed by City during a dreadful run of form which came to an end against West Ham last weekend.

After suffering a series of injury problems throughout his career, the £2million striker, who made such a positive impression at Eastlands last year following his move from Aston Villa, is determined not to rush his comeback, with the home encounter with Middlesbrough on October 30 still only a possibility.

'If you come back too soon, it is almost certainly going to go again,' he said.

While it seems unlikely any of City's long-term injury victims will return for Saturday's trip to Everton, Pearce should at least have midfielder Ousmane Dabo available now the Frenchman has completed the three-match ban he picked up for his red card at Reading.