(Reuters) - Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho has set his sights on making his return from an ankle injury in the Premier League match against Manchester City on Dec. 31.
The 24-year-old Brazilian, who was initially expected to be out for five to six weeks, has been on the sidelines since sustaining the injury during the 2-0 win over Sunderland at Anfield last month.
"This is still my hope - to return for this game (against Manchester City)," Coutinho told the club's website (www.liverpoolfc.com).
Liverpool have dropped points in their last two games, losing at Bournemouth and being held to a home draw by West Ham United on Sunday to slip six points behind leaders Chelsea.
"The rehab is going really well. I can now walk without crutches and I am working well with the medical team. So I'm pleased with how I am recovering," Coutinho added.
"Straight after the game, when I first saw the pictures and videos of my injury, I was a little scared. But after the scans, of course it was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I am happy, as it could have been a lot worse."
Liverpool, third in the table, travel to 16th-placed Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond