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Inter defender Walter Samuel says he is aiming to return to the Nerazzurri line-up before the end of the season, after recovering from a serious knee injury.

The Argentine international was injured in the Beneamata's clash against Brescia in November 2010, and after many months of rehabilitation, is keen to get back on to the pitch.

"I still have some hope of returning before the end of the season," the 33-year-old told the club's official website. "My aim, though, is to heal properly, and it seems the squad does not need me at the moment, as they are playing very well.

"The team has demonstrated this in the past few months, and as a result, are in the running in all three competitions. The only contribution I can give to my team-mates is my support in being close to them.

"Every day, I am doing some a little extra, and the staff seem confident in my abilities. Even the doctor - who generally advises me against this - is seeing that I am doing well."

Samuel also praised Andrea Ranocchia, who was brought in to help fill the void left by the Argentine's injury.

"He has been very good in the role," he continued. "He is different to Lucio and I in terms of technical characteristics.

"Andrea is a serious and humble person whom I like a lot."

Inter face Schalke in the Champions League quarter-finals and sit in second position in the league ladder.

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