Luka Modric hopes to return to Real Madrid's side in mid-February but insists he will not rush his comeback from a thigh injury.
Modric injured a thigh muscle during Croatia's Euro 2016 qualifier with Italy in November, and was sent for surgery to repair the problem.
The midfielder was expected to be out for three months, and wants to make sure he is fully fit before he returns to aid Madrid's bid for domestic and European glory.
Real are back in UEFA Champions League action on February 18, when they will play the first leg of a last-16 tie against Schalke, and Modric is confident he will be involved.
"Everything is going great," he told Sportske Novosti. "At the end of the year I will go for another MRI scan and expect everything to be okay, so that from the first day of the new year I can go into the second phase of rehabilitation.
"Forecasts have indicated that in mid-February I could play again. I won't rush my recovery but I'll be ready for the important battles.
"When I was told I faced three months out, I feared the worst as I remembered when I broke my leg in 2009, but in the end I looked on the bright side.
"If it had to happen, it's better that it did during this period so I can return in time for the first round of matches with titles at stake.
"I think Madrid can become the first club to win the Champions League twice in a row."comments