JAI Stanley is targeting a mid-January return for Worcester City following his third knee operation.

The 27-year-old midfielder begins running again later this week after undergoing surgery to trim cartilage in his right knee at Wrightington Hospital in Lancashire.

It was the third time in two years that Stanley, a club record signing when he joined City from Moor Green for £10,000 two years ago, has gone under the knife.

Stanley is keeping his fingers crossed that it will be his last visit to an operating theatre.

And after a seemingly successful operation, he is hoping to play again within a month.

"Mid-January is a realistic target for me," he said. "I'll obviously need one or two reserve games before thinking about the first team.

"Hopefully, I will be playing again in four weeks. I should be running again towards the end of this week and building up the muscle in my knee.

"But I've been keeping things ticking over anyway. I've been strengthening the muscles, keeping my fitness up and giving myself a good springboard to go forward.

"I don't know exactly what my regime will be over the next few weeks, but I'll be working with Jock (assistant boss Andy Morrison) and (physio) Ben Schiffmann. I'll be trying to do the best I possibly can.

"Hopefully, this will be the end of my knee problems. I can't keep going on with these operations. It's been one after another."

Stanley was heartbroken to watch from the sidelines as his City team-mates masterminded the club's superb run in the FA Cup. But the Coventry-based playmaker is determined to make up for lost time.

Stanley added: "It's going to be difficult to break back into the team because everyone's done so well.

"The next couple of months are crucial for us with so many fixtures. That's why the gaffer wants everyone in his squad available."