Malaga midfielder Julio Baptista is eyeing a return to first-team action within a month as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury.
The former Arsenal and Real Madrid man missed the majority of last season with the injury before undergoing surgery in July.
Since then the Brazilian has been making his way back to full fitness as he bids to break into a Malaga side who have qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in their first appearance in the competition.
And the 31-year-old is itching to make a return to action before La Liga heads into its mid-season break.
“It takes time to come back. I have never had such serious injuries as I have had here (Malaga),” he said.
“We are following the procedures to be as fast as possible.
“Doctors estimated a return between four or five months (after the operation). Obviously it depends on how my body reacts to the treatment. At the moment I’m back to training, getting better step by step.
“In time I’ll be as fit as a normal player so I estimate that I’ll be fit no later than a month from now. I have to train with the whole team to get up to their pace now because they are months ahead of me in terms of preparation. So it’s every step at a time.
“I really would like to be fit for the last match (of the) Champions League group stage. Or maybe one match earlier, who knows. My plan is to play no later than first week of December.”
Baptista is also hoping to make a return to the Brazilian national side but admitted it will be a difficult prospect after spending so long out of the team, with his last cap coming at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“It (playing again for Brazil again) will depend on a number of things,” he said.
“It depends a lot on my performances. I know my club are playing some of the greatest competitions in the world, such as Champions League. It gives me a chance of being watched.
“If I can get back to the same performances I once had I’ll be an option. But it depends on our manager as well. I’ll do my best for it because playing for your country is something very unique. I was happy with everything while I was there and if I can do it again it will be incredible.”