Mourinho predicts 2009 return for Vieira

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has announced that Patrick Vieira's Achilles tendon injury will rule him out for the next two games, adding it was unlikely the French midfielder would be back playing before 2009.

"In two weeks, 2008 is over," said Mourinho. "There's a risk that you won't see Vieira make his return until next year."

"It's not possible for him to play tomorrow (Saturday against Lazio) or on Tuesday (against Werder Bremen in the UEFA Champions League)."

Vieira suffered the injury in training two days after Inter's 1-0 win over Juventus on 22 November, a game in which he played only the final few minutes.

Since his arrival at Inter in the summer 2006, the 32-year-old France captain has been plagued by a raft of injuries that have curtailed his playing time.