Chris Vermeulen insists his recovery from a knee injury remains on course, despite him having to withdraw from the opening round of the 2011 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island.

The Kawasaki rider was due to make his long anticipated racing return at the 2011 curtain raiser, but concerns over his fitness during the course of a race weekend prompted the decision to focus on round two at Donington Park instead.

A decision that will leave him on the sidelines for his home race, a philosophical Vermeulen maintains he must remain patient if he hopes to return at his best.

"We decided as a team that the best thing was not race or test here at Phillip Island. It is unfortunate because it is my home round and I have gone through such a long recovery already. It would have been nice to start off the season fit and strong but we did not want to risk any further damage to my knee.

"Just as importantly, I am not fit enough to compete at the top level yet so it is better to not ride at the moment. My knee is improving and the recovery is going to plan, so hopefully by Donington I will be ready to race again. I have nearly five weeks from now to get ready for that round."

Vermeulen, who picked up the original injury in a high-speed crash at Phillip Island a year ago, has not raced since August and only tested the ZX-10R briefly at Sepang in January.