​Atletico Madrid defender Sime Vrsaljko has stepped up his return from a knee injury and will be slowly integrated back into training after a nine-month spell on the sidelines.

The Croatian sustained the injury during his season-long loan move to Inter, whom he joined in the summer of 2018, a deal that cost an initial €6.5m loan fee with a €17.5m option to buy.

Vrsaljko's time in Milan was constantly interrupted by a knee injury, restricting him to just 13 appearances in all competitions, with his last outing for ​Inter coming at the start of January in a Coppa Italia clash against Benevento. With the problem lingering still, surgery was ultimately required in February.

Vrsaljko since returned to his parent club and began his recovery alongside specialist doctors at ​Los Rojiblancos. As revealed by the side on their ​official Twitter page, the 27-year-old is stepping up his recovery as he bids to return to first-team action.

Their post read: "The Croat is to carry out personalised readjustment sessions and will progressively start training with his teammates."

While it seems unlikely that Vrsaljko will force his way back into Diego Simeone's plans anytime soon, a return to action may present the club with the chance to sell right-back in the near future, and recoup some of the £14m they spent to sign him from Sassuolo in 2016.

Sime Vrsaljko

According to ​Marca, there is a possibility of a January loan move on the cards, as fellow right-backs Kieran Trippier and Santiago Arias have performed well this season as Atletico sit one point and two places behind Barcelona in ​La Liga.

That said, a huge summer clear out in Madrid saw a number of defenders leave Simeone's side, with full-backs Juanfran Torres and Filipe Luis, as well as central defenders Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez. departing in a swathe of changes at the Wanda Metropolitano meaning the versatile Croatian yet play a part this season.