Johnson over injury woes

Midfielder all set for first-team return

Johnson: European aims

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Michael Johnson hopes that he is finally over his injury nightmare and can now concentrate on spearheading Manchester City's European push.

The England Under 21 international has played just four games since October after struggling with an abdominal strain.

He underwent an operation in November to try and cure the problem only to then see it flare up again as he closed in on a return to full fitness.

However, he successfully came through 45 minutes for City's reserves against Newcastle last week and is now hoping to be back in Sven Goran Eriksson's plans for the crunch clash with fellow top four hopefuls Everton next Monday.

Thrilled

"I hate being injured, but now I'm finally running with no pain, and I'm thrilled about that. Touch wood, it stays away now and I keep on top of it," Johnson told the Manchester Evening News.

"It was good to get 45 minutes under my belt against Newcastle in the reserves.

"I had no pain, and I didn't feel too tired, so it was a good stepping stone for me.

"It was a good chance for some of the other lads to step up their fitness too, and it was pleasing to see Valeri Bojinov back in that game."

Six-pointer

City beat Manchester United in an emotional derby at Old Trafford last time out and Johnson is hoping that the momentum gained from such an encouraging victory will now be carried over into the upcoming game with the Toffees.

"We hope we can carry this on into the game against Everton now and get three points there, because that's going to be a big game for us," he said.

"They are where we want to be at the end of the season, so it will be a six-pointer. I think the race for Europe is on.

"Our aim is to get fifth or sixth spot, and if we put together a really good run, maybe to get fourth. And Everton want the same, so it will be a big game."