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Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate has denied reports that he suffered a fresh injury setback in training – claiming he is looking forward to making his debut after a year out through injury.

“I’ve been recovered for some time now,” the 25-year-old centre-back told Real Madrid television on Thursday.

“I’ve been sprinting and kicking the ball as well as doing other recovery exercises. The injury is fine and I will feel even better when I start playing again …. The truth is I’m dying to play again.”

Woodgate, who joined Real from Newcastle United last August, has not played a competitive game since tearing a muscle in his thigh in a Premier League match against Chelsea in April 2004.

A recurrence of the injury in training saw him sidelined for the entire season and there were reports yesterday that he had suffered another lapse in training.

Woodgate hopes to play his first match in a pre-season game in Austria. The England defender has denied reports that he wants to return to England.

“It is not true,” he said.

“I want to prove what I’m worth as a player and I want to play for Real Madrid. It would be a big mistake to return to England and let an opportunity like this pass me by.”

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