West Ham midfielder Kieron Dyer is targeting a Christmas return to Barclays Premier League action after 15 months out with a career-threatening injury.
The 29-year-old broke his leg against Bristol Rovers in a Carling Cup tie in August 2007, less than a fortnight after joining the Hammers from Newcastle, but is set to feature in a friendly this week.
"Ideally I will have three or four preparation games and then be ready, perhaps for the Christmas period," said Dyer.
The England man has had three operations on his injury and although he was close to returning for the start of this season, he suffered a stress fracture in training and was ruled out for another three months.
Dyer will not feature in the Premier League clash at Liverpool on Monday, but West Ham have organised a behind-closed-doors friendly this week especially for him and another long-term injury victim, Jonathan Spector.
"It will be great to get that first game under my belt," said Dyer. "I'm not going to say I'm going to be thrown straight back into the first team.
"Every day I feel sharper and I do believe now I need to make up for lost time.
"My 30th birthday is coming up later this month and some players start to look toward the end of their careers when they reach that milestone. With the amount of football I've missed though, I feel I have a good five years still left in me."
Former manager Alan Curbishley brought Dyer to Upton Park, but he left a year later and was replaced by Gianfranco Zola.
Dyer, who has won 33 England caps, added: "Gianfranco Zola has been good to me. On his first day he called me into his office and said he remembered playing against me."
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