The Dutch defender, who has been plagued by a persistent ankle problem since joining the Rossoneri last summer, underwent surgery last Friday in a bid to remove a damaged sheath that had been aggravating his ankle tendon for months.
Playing his part
The operation was hailed as a success by medical staff, and Stam is now hoping to make a playing return in January. "For a couple of months I'll be supporting the team from the sidelines but after that I very much hope to play my part on the field once more," the imposing centre-back told uefa.com.
"Hopefully I will come back into the Milan squad at a very exciting stage of the season. By then, I expect us to have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages and be challenging at the top in Serie A. Things are going really well for the team at the moment and I expect that to continue on all fronts because our squad is talented enough to achieve so much this season."
Stam's injury has restricted the Dutchman to only three appearances in a Milan shirt since his transfer from cash-strapped S.S. Lazio at the end of last season. But the former Manchester United FC player believes this short-term setback will benefit both himself and Carlo Ancelotti's side in the long run.
I am really disappointed to be missing so many games but the operation was a necessity in the end. You have to look at things in the long term sometimes and that's what we've done here," said Stam. "The problem just wouldn't go away, so we decided it was in my own, and the club's, best interests to remove the sheath around the tendon. It was very dry and swollen and was of no real use. I will be able to carry on playing as normal without the sheath and I know this because I had the same one removed from my other ankle earlier in my career!"
The 32-year-old Stam, who retired from international football after UEFA EURO 2004™ to concentrate solely on his club commitments at the San Siro, admits he cannot wait to play free of concerns about his fitness. He said: "I was playing in almost constant pain and that was no good for me, or my team. It wasn't going to help me as an individual to carry on doing that, but more importantly it certainly wasn't going to help the coach or my team-mates.
"I could have carried on playing one game and then missing the next, but that wouldn't solve the problem," he added. "At least now, my ankle shouldn't bother me any more."
Jaap Stam's personal website is at www.icons.com
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