Lucas Hernandez has told Bayern Munich fans he "cannot wait to get back on the pitch" as the FIFA World Cup winner targets a return to action early in 2020.
Hernandez joined Bayern from Atletico Madrid last summer, but has been reduced to just six Bundesliga appearances due to injury. The France international defender has not pulled on a Bayern shirt since suffering ankle ligament damage in the UEFA Champions League win at Olympiacos on 22 October, but expects to make his comeback soon.
"I'm improving all the time. I'm now about ten days away from training with the team, then I'd like to step it up slowly. My aim is to take full part in the Rückrunde preparations, and be able to play by mid- or the end of January," Hernandez told Bayern fans at a supporters' association Christmas party, and insisted his sizeable price tag was not a burden.
"It doesn't weigh me down, but of course I want to show that I'm worth that money and repay the faith Bayern have shown in me. I can hardly wait to get back on the pitch."
Despite the difficulties he has suffered since swapping the Spanish capital for its Bavarian counterpart, Hernandez has no regrets whatsoever about leaving Atletico, the club he had joined aged 11.
"I didn't hesitate for a second when the call came from Hasan Salihamidzic, no-one had to convince me," explained the Marseille-born man, who joined Bayern's healthy French contingent that also features Benjamin Pavard, Coretin Tolisso, Mickaël Cuisance and Kingsley Coman.
"It'd always been my dream to play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and FC Bayern are one of those. I'm happy that I made this decision. I feel more and more happy here."
Watch: Who is Lucas Hernandez?
Hernandez watched from the sidelines as Bayern replaced Niko Kovac with his assistant coach Hansi Flick following the astonishing 5-1 rout at Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 10.
"He's a great coach, and I wish him all the best," said the 23-year-old, who — like ex-Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes — backed interim boss Flick to remain in the role.
"Why shouldn't he stay? He's doing a good job and we're playing well under him. If that continues, I can easily see him staying until the end of the season."
Flick had made a compelling case to be given more time in the Bayern dug-out by winning his first four competitive games in charge during which his team scored 16 goals and conceded none.
He suffered his first setback as his side were beaten 2-1 at home to a Leon Bailey-inspired Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 13, but Hernandez is convinced Bayern will bounce back, starting against leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend.
"That's football! Sometimes it goes for you, other times it doesn't. Against Leverkusen, it didn't want to. But we played well. I'm sure that we'll get results in the coming games," he said, and his club when asked who his favourites to win the UEFA Champions League are.
"Us, FC Bayern, because we have the best team."