Early start for Everton striker Johnson

Last updated at 16:07 13 June 2007

Andrew Johnson has vowed he will be "perfect" in time for Everton's pre-season training as he steps up his rehabilitation from an ankle operation.

The England striker, who has been troubled by an ankle injury for a couple of years, said: "It's (the ankle) brand new and it's probably the first time in two or three years that it's felt this good.

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"I am doing some balance and strengthening work before taking the weekend off. Then I will be back next week to do some ball work so that I am ready to join the boys when they all return on July 2. I will be perfect by then."

Johnson will spend the summer working at the club's Bellefield training ground

with physio Mick Rathbone to ensure that he is completely recovered from the

operation which took place in the final week of the season.

Johnson told Evertonfc.com: "I have been running well, certainly with some

decent speed. I have been running at three-quarter pace and was tempted to bring

my boots in and start kicking balls about.

"But I know I have to be patient and I have got plenty of time on my side.

Part of the reason for me getting the operation done early was so that I can

come back early.

"I've had a 10-day break with the family and I am back now doing some jogging,

and things are going fine."

Johnson is feeling no discomfort and he declared that the operation to remove a

piece of excess bone that has been a long-term problem for him, has been a

complete success.

One of the first games that Johnson could be involved in will be a friendly

against a Northern Ireland XI in Coleraine on July 14.

The Toffees will face a northern Irish side selected from their senior and U21

squads, as part of the Milk Cup's 25th anniversary celebrations.

The youth tournament has long been supported by Everton chief David Moyes, and

a couple of years ago he travelled with Wayne Rooney to the province to make the

competition's draw.

Everton are also due to play Bury on July 14, and will split their first-team

squad between the two fixtures.

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