Zhirkov denies that he requires knee operation
Injured Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov has set his sights on making his Barclays Premier League debut after shrugging off fears he would need surgery to cure a knee problem.
Zhirkov, who joined Chelsea in the summer for £18million from CSKA Moscow, has missed the start of the Barclays League campaign because of a knee injury aggravated on the club's pre-season tour of America.
The Russia winger, 26, hopes to return to training in the next few days and is looking to be in contention for a return to competitive action when Chelsea face Burnley on August 29.
Reports back home suggested he would need an operation to alleviate the problem with his right knee but Zhirkov quickly put the record straight.
"I don't know who spread these rumours, but they don't correspond to reality," said Zhirkov.
"My condition has improved and the doctors say that in two or three days I will be able to return to training, although not fully. I'll work on an individual programme.
"I was feeling pain and noticeably limping when running, but now that's behind me. I just need to tone up the leg."
Zhirkov's injury worsened after his appearance for Chelsea against AC Milan on the US tour.
Chelsea have started superbly without Zhirkov - beating Hull and Sunderland to give new coach Carlo Ancelotti an unbeaten start to his managerial career in England.
Meanwhile Portugal midfielder Deco has revealed how he rejected other offers this summer to remain at Stamford Bridge.
Deco failed to make his mark last season after joining from Barcelona but the Portugal international blames his poor year on a succession of injuries.
"Last season was the worst season of my career because I never had so many injuries before," said Deco.
"This season things can be different. I know I am well and fit and I can play. I want to help the team and I think the coach trusts me.
"I have a contract and they respect me here - the fans, the people in the club and the new coach.
"I had other offers but I never said that I want to go.
"I just said the last season was difficult and I wouldn't like this one to be like the last one - but I talked with the club and the coach and the first time he said he wanted to keep me in the squad, I said okay, I want to stay."