Ronaldo pledges to meet 'great challenge' of full recovery

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The Independent Online

Milan striker Ronaldo wants to attempt a comeback once his knee recuperates from what some experts have said would be a career-ending injury.

"For now it's still early to speak about decisions, but I'm preparing myself for the great challenge of returning to play," Ronaldo said yesterday.

The three-time Fifa world player of the year ruptured a tendon in his left knee last month while playing in a Serie A match.

He had a successful operation and immediately began physical therapy, although doctors say the earliest Ronaldo could play again would be in about eight months.

Ronaldo was more ambivalent when he first spoke about the injury after the operation in February, saying: "My will is to keep on playing. My heart tells me this, but my body is showing me signs that it's tired, that it is asking for rest."

For a brief series of matches, in January and February, he was part of an all-Brazilian attack with Kaka and Alexandre Pato at Milan. "I'm doing better, the worst has passed," said Ronaldo, who returned to Milan's training ground this week for the first time since his injury.

"I don't feel pain anymore and I'm able to walk better. In no time at all I'll be able to definitively get rid of the crutches respecting the time frame we established."

Ronaldo has battled serious injuries throughout his career, and already has had a career threatening right knee injury when playing for city rivals, Internazionale, eight years ago.

He missed the following season, but came back strongly at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, guiding Brazil to their fifth title with eight goals, including both in the final against Germany. Ronaldo's contract with Milan expires at the end of June.

Meanwhile, Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said he was in favour of a move to bring Chelsea striker Andrei Shevchenko back to the club.

"If Milan want to take back Shevchenko he would be welcome," he said. "He hasn't managed to play at his [best] level in England. If he came back he would have great desire and it could be positive for the whole environment."

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