Manchester City left-back Benjamin Mendy believes he could be back in action by the end of this month following cruciate knee ligament surgery.
France international Mendy joined Pep Guardiola’s side from Monaco last July for a fee in the region of £52million, only to have an impressive start to life at the Etihad Stadium halted by injury during September’s 5-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The 23-year-old set the Champions League semi-finals, which begin on April 24, as his return date but his progress has been quicker than expected.
“When I started my recovery, I had in mind the semi-finals of the Champions League,” he told City’s official website.
“That was my goal, but I am coming back a bit quicker than expected originally so maybe it will be possible for me to return sooner than that. I believe in this.
“I think it’s possible for me to come back within four weeks. It’s not a good thing to come back too soon and you have to take your time.
“We will see how things go, but I am working hard and [am] optimistic.”
— Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) February 25, 2018
That timeframe could put Mendy in contention for City’s trip to Everton on March 31, with the derby at home to Manchester United up a week later.
A commanding 16-point lead at the Premier League summit with 10 matches to play has brought the prospect of Guardiola’s side clinching glory when they face their bitter rivals firmly into view.
It is a match Mendy is certainly keen to be involved in.
“The Manchester derby is a realistic aim. That’s half clear in my mind. I really want to play that game,” he said.
“Of course, there is the World Cup on the horizon, too. For me, there is no doubt regarding the World Cup.
“After I return, it’s on me to impress; I have to make sure I come back well and to keep the rhythm. Before it was one of my targets, but now I know it will be fine.”
City lifted the EFL Cup thanks to a 3-0 win over Arsenal at Wembley last weekend and are 4-0 up after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Basel, who they host in Manchester next week.