Diego Milito has admitted his desperation to return to the Inter team and revealed that he aims to be fit to face Juventus at San Siro in mid-September.
The Argentine has not featured for the Nerazzurri since rupturing his cruciate ligaments seven minutes into his side's 2-0 Europa League win over CFR Cluj in February.
After a long spell on the sidelines, Milito believes that he is finally close to being available for the first team and has set a tentative return date for September 15, when Walter Mazzarri's men face Juventus in Serie A.
"The initial dream was to be there for maybe the beginning of the season," the 34-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"But today I really do not know when I could [return]. Of course, in mid-September there is a certain game [Inter-Juve] at San Siro. However, I'd prefer not to delude myself anymore if I can [avoid it]."
Recalling the injury he suffered on February 14, Millito confessed that he had been left in absolute agony.
"The pain was ever so strong," he said. "I'd never had serious injuries before, and any injuries I had were always in my muscles: they do not compare with that pain."
Milito has scored 73 times in 153 games since joining from Genoa in 2009 and insisted that he is eager to continue making that sort of positive contribution.
"From the outside you suffer too, and want to lend a hand without being able to do so," he added.
"It is a feeling that hits you in the stomach. There is always something you want to try and give, regardless of injury.
"I speak often with the doctors, but we have not set a date on the calendar. I go day by day.
"We are on the right track, let's say at the stage of finishing, but with a duty not to risk anything.
"It's not worth ruining the good work: at these levels nobody gives you anything. And I'm still missing something: the rhythm, match practice and so on."
Inter continue their preparations for the new season, facing Valencia on Sunday in a pre-season friendly in New York.