Ronaldo faces a long road to recovery [AFP]
AC Milan striker Ronaldo has confirmed he wants to attempt a comeback once his knee recuperates from what some experts have said would be a career-ending injury.

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.

"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.

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

Ronaldo was more ambivalent when he first spoke 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.''

Impact player

The 31-year-old Brazilian had played only sporadically since joining Milan a little more than a year ago, but his scoring rate of nine league goals in 16 starts showed that he had not lost the touch that helped make him the leading scorer in World Cup history with 15 goals.

For a brief series of games in January and February, Ronaldo was part of an all-Brazilian attack with Kaka and Alexandre Pato that gave Milan a brief burst of energy and several key wins.

Ronaldo's two goals in that period helped spark a dormant offense that has again had trouble scoring after his injury.

"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 had a career threatening right knee injury when playing for crosstown rival Inter Milan eight years ago.

He missed the following season, but came back strongly at the 2002 World Cup, guiding Brazil to its fifth title with eight goals, including both in the final against Germany.

Ronaldo's contract with Milan expires at the end of June.

Source: Agencies