Michael Johnson is on course for a September return from serious knee surgery and believes the second major setback of his young career has made him mentally tougher.

City’s gifted former England Under-21 midfielder is working through the summer after his season was wrecked by a complicated cruciate ligament injury in training last December.

Johnno, who had been back barely a month following a year out, was warned by the surgeon when he had the operation that it might be another 12 months before he could play again.

Now careful not to rush his daily programme at Carrington, he said: “I  won’t be ready for the start of season, but everything is going well and we’re looking at probably September time.

“I’m working hard and my knee feels good, it feels normal again. It’s about building fitness now and not doing anything too quickly. One mistake and you’re back to square one or worse.

Lately it’s been going so well I’ve been running a bit too fast - well, I have been out for five months!



“But I’m being told ‘slow down’, and I have to put the reins on and hold back. I’ve been back to the surgeon three times for check-ups and he’s given the all-clear each time. You have to return after six months, so I’ll see him in another month or so.”

Luckless Michael’s latest injury, which occurred in training, followed a painful pelvic problem that took him a year to overcome and ruled him out of most of the 2009-10 campaign.

But he said: “These things make you mentally tougher. I had to stop and my studs got stuck in the turf, it wasn’t just the cruciate, but I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.

“I was out the year before, so when you find out you’re going to have 12 months off again it’s gutting, but you have been through it before - you know you can get through it again.”