Napoli being drawn against Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League has provided Arkadiusz Milik with increased motivation to return from a knee injury.
Milik ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while representing Poland in a 3-2 win over Denmark in October and had to undergo surgery.
Napoli are hopeful the striker, signed from Ajax for a reported €32million in August as a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain, will make his comeback in January having commenced training last month.
Milik’s personal target, though, is to be available when Napoli face Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on February 15.
Asked whether that fixture had given him encouragement to return as swiftly as possible, Milik said: “It’s an obvious question, after this draw it’s clear that the desire to return is even greater.
“[My knee] is really good. After two months I feel good, but judging my condition is not up to me, that’s the doctor’s job. I’m training, I’m back running, but the doctor will decide.
“I hope to return to the pitch as soon as possible, for January-February. I don’t know when I’ll start training with the team.
“I just want to return to the pitch as soon as possible.”
Dries Mertens has impressed in a central attacking role in Milik’s absence, the Belgian helping seal top spot in Champions League Group B with a goal in the 2-1 victory over Benfica before scoring a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Cagliari last weekend.
The Poland international is proud of Mertens for his decisive displays, but hopes to force his team-mate back into a wide position when he is fit to return.
“He’s playing really well, I’m glad. We’re very good friends, so I’m happy for him and I like seeing him play in that position. I hope when I return he moves to the left though,” said Milik.