Arsenal starlet Benik Afobe is taking inspiration from club captain Robin Van Persie on the road to recovery from a long-term groin injury.
The 19-year-old made his long-awaited return for the Gunners’ second string on Tuesday night, scoring in a 5-0 victory against Norwich City at Carrow Road in his first match for six months.
And during his time on the treatment table, Afobe admits he’s had several discussions with Dutch striker ‘RVP’, who has also struggled with injuries during his time in north London.
“I speak to Robin van Persie quite a lot and he always comes into the gym and asks me about my rehab,” Afobe told Arsenal Player post-match.
“He was injured quite a lot when he was younger at Arsenal, so he just tells me to keep motivated, to carry on doing what I am doing in my gym sessions and rehab and to prove a point.
“He is a fantastic striker and a fantastic person as well. He always has time for the younger lads and he has helped me quite a lot - I always listen to what he says to me.”
Afobe picked up the injury during a pre-season clash the New York Red Bulls, limping off the pitch in July during an Emirates Cup clash against Thierry Henry & Co.
Whilst the layoff has been frustrating for the teenage hitman, Afobe revealed he’s been delighted to see several young players make the first team grade under Arsene Wenger this season, and has to thank the medical team at the club for getting him in a position to now challenge for a senior return.
“It was very disappointing to get injured - to be back after such a long time is what I have been dreaming about for the past six months,” he added.
“I played in the Emirates Cup, but when others players [got their first-team chance this season] I was delighted for them, having grown up and come through the youth ranks with them.
“It has been quite hard, but I had a good medical team behind me. Craig Gant, the fitness coach, has helped me a lot and kept me motivated. I am really happy to be back training with the team every day.
“Now I just want to get back to the same level as before, if not better, and see where that takes me. I am not too sure about a loan or if I am going to get a first-team chance but I will take it one step at a time.”