Benjamin Mendy is determined to play a full part in France's 2018 World Cup campaign as he steps up his recovery from cruciate knee ligament surgery.
Manchester City left-back Mendy enjoyed an encouraging start to life in the Premier League following his £52million move from Monaco, but suffered a ruptured cruciate knee ligament during September's 5-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The 23-year-old is now 14 weeks into a gruelling rehabilitation process and, after agreeing a hypothetical return date of this season's Champions League semi-finals with City boss Pep Guardiola, Mendy is similarly ambitious when it comes to his national team.
"My objectives are clear: come back and win everything with Manchester City first, then the World Cup with my country," he said in his latest column for The Times.
"Our France manager, Didier Deschamps, texted me to know how I was feeling and encouraged me on coming back better and stronger, just like Pep Guardiola does every day I see him, and it makes me want to work even more when I know they are taking care of me like that."
Mendy has progressed from an unusual cycling regime to running outdoors and is happy to endure the cold Mancunian winter as he moves towards once again representing the Premier League's runaway leaders.
"It's been now more than 14 weeks since I went to Barcelona for my surgery and I've been working very hard ever since," he said.
"Now I'm able to run on a treadmill and I'm still taking the bike three times a week in the sauna, where it's harder to pedal.
"It's such a great feeling when you finish those sessions. And I know it will pay off, I already feel stronger and sharper than a couple of weeks ago.
"I just started to go on the pitch to begin a specific program, and run closer to my team-mates.
"It's so cold in Manchester now but it's such a good feeling to be out running on the grass again.
"Being able to run is like a reward for everything I went through, even if I know there is much more to come."
Agent Mendy & his Belgian WonderJanuary 6, 2018
Mendy has been a typically colourful presence on social media and as a spectator at City matches during his absence – memorably hobbling down the touchline to join in wild celebrations after Raheem Sterling's injury-time winner against Southampton in November.
Guardiola has voiced his dissatisfaction with the hectic festive schedule in English football but it was a spectacle Mendy enjoyed taking in from the stands.
"It was time for me to discover the famous Boxing Day period," he added.
"And even if I wasn't playing, it was my first time experiencing this — it really is something special: the atmosphere in the stands where the families gather to support their club more than usual, the stadium and the energy.
"It's so intense on the pitch, you can feel how tough the game will be even before it starts. It's different to the Premier League routine."
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