Newcastle's Christian Atsu has admitted it has taken longer than expected for him to regain full fitness following an operation on his knee last spring.
As reported in the Northern Echo, the midfielder has spoken up about the difficulties he has suffered during his time spent on the sideline with the Magpies.
Atsu underwent surgery back in April following two seasons of recurring knee problems which have plagued his career on Tyneside so far. As a result he missed the entirety of the pre-season and has been slow getting back up to the pace of Premier League life.
Speaking frankly about the situation, the Ghana international said: “I need to give everything and work harder because, at the start of the season, I was not in good shape.
“I am still getting my fitness back to where I want it to be. I am really working hard, and I am confident this is going to be a good season. I know I can get back to my best form."
The 26-year-old has only made one start for Newcastle this campaign, which came in a home defeat to Leicester back in September. He did however come off the bench with a positive effect in last weekend's 2-0 win over Bournemouth and will hope to build on his decent cameo as the season and his fitness both progress.
"It has been more difficult to recover than I thought it would be," he added. "To be fair, it has been very difficult to come back from the injury. That is normal though. It was a knee injury, and they are always difficult to recover from. With time, I am going to be back to my very best football.”
The midfielder is currently on international duty with Ghana preparing for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Ethiopia. Following the international break, he will return to club football when Newcastle play Burnley next up in the Premier League.