Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard feels returning to action in time for the start of next season is a realistic target.

The midfielder damaged knee ligaments just four games into his Fulham career when suffering the injury at Newcastle United last September.

He has been treated by Dr Richard Steadman and is due to visit the American surgeon again in June for the latest update on his recovery.

A comeback in pre-season has been mooted for Bullard, who is optimistic about being available for selection come the start of the 2007/08 campaign.

“Hopefully I can get pre-season under my belt with the boys,” Bullard told Sky Sports News.

“If I can start the season I’d be a happy man, I really would.

“They gave me a timeframe of next August when I was out there (America), but that was just their guess at that time.

“With a big injury like mine, it can go a few months over, or it can be under, we just take each month as it comes and hopefully I can start the season.

“I think it is quite realistic at the moment.”

The 28-year-old concedes that not being able to train with his Fulham team-mates has been difficult to cope with.

He added: “It’s not great to be honest because I miss the boys and training with the boys.

“I suppose I’ve got to get through it, but I am going through a bit of a tough time in the gym on my own.

“The boys have had a bit of time off lately and that’s probably why I’m struggling a bit mentally, but you get through it.”