LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has set his sights on returning from his lengthy injury lay-off in next month's derby against Manchester United.
Mendy has been sidelined since sustaining knee ligament damage in the Premier League leaders' win over Crystal Palace in September.
The 23-year-old had hoped to be fit for a possible Champions League semi-final in late April, but his recovery from surgery is now ahead of schedule.
City face fierce rivals United at Eastlands on April 7 and France left-back Mendy plans to take part in the grudge match.
"The Manchester derby is a realistic aim. That's half-clear in my mind. I really want to play that game," he told City's website.
"When I started my recovery, I had in mind the semi-finals of the Champions League. That was my goal, but I am coming back a bit quicker than expected originally so maybe it will be possible for me to return sooner than that. I believe in this.
"I think it's possible for me to come back within four weeks. It's not a good thing to come back too soon and you have to take your time.
"We will see how things go but I am working hard and optimistic."
Mendy made an impressive start with City following his move from Monaco last year, but he could manage only five appearances before being sidelined.
He remains confident of doing enough to claim a place in France's World Cup squad in Russia later this year.
"Of course, there is the World Cup on the horizon too. For me, there is no doubt regarding the World Cup. After I return, it's on me to impress," he said.