Manchester United skipper Nemanja Vidic has confirmed he is on course for a return to action at the start of next season.
Vidic ruptured his cruciate ligament during December's Champions League defeat to Basel.
The 30-year-old was immediately ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, and although there were suggestions he may be back sooner, in a webchat with the official United website he said his target was pre-season training.
"My recovery is going well," he said. "Obviously the projection was I would be ready for the next season. I am on schedule and will hopefully start training again in July."
Vidic has been confined to gym work during the early weeks of his rehabilitation, although that will be stepped up as the months go on.
In the meantime, the Serbian has been reduced to a watching brief as United strive for a record 20th Premier League title. Although Patrick Vieira has cast doubt on United's credentials, Vidic does not share his view.
He may be wary of saying any games are easier than others, but because of United's fixtures on the run-in he feels they deserve to be favourites.
"I've had the belief from the beginning and if you look at the schedule of the games we have left to play I would like to say we are the favourites," he told www.manutd.com.
"We still have to win the nine games and need to be focused. We believed from the beginning and have the confidence but we have nine Champions League final games now I would say.
"It's all in our hands. We have to focus and give our best. All the players are ready to perform which is a good sign and a positive thing for the nine games ahead."