BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes says he expects to be ready to play by early January.
Valdes tore a muscle in his right calf playing a friendly for Spain at South Africa in November, and was ruled out for about six weeks.
Valdes says his recovery ''has gone faster than we expected and according to the latest tests and how I feel I believe I am well.''
He has targeted Barcelona's home match against Elche on Jan. 5 to make his return. Valdes, who has said on repeated occasions that he will leave Barcelona when his contract expires next summer, says he has not reached an agreement with another club.
"I am feeling very good," Valdes told reporters during a news conference. "These weeks have been unusual for me as I had never been injured before but we have now completed two goalkeeping sessions and one more intense one and everything has gone faster than expected," he added.
"The latest tests show everything has mended. I am excited about playing again and if everything goes well the plan is for me to make my comeback against Elche if the coach decides that is the right decision."
The 31-year-old goalkeeper is in his last year of his contract with Barcelona and has been rumored to leave the club at season's end. The Spanish international, however, has yet to reveal his long-term plans.
"For me the most important thing is to respect Barca until the end," Valdes added. "I will not make anything public at a juncture in the campaign which could have a negative impact. The important thing is that team wins and we get the titles that we are targeting."