Florian Lejeune opens up on his injury, a comeback date and Newcastle's fans on social media
Florian Lejeune doesn't want to look too far forward.
Some days he’s fine. Other days, he’s not.
But the Newcastle United defender is edging closer to a return to training – just three months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.
Lejeune returned to Tyneside this month after spending a couple of months in Italy following successful surgery on his knee.
“I’m working hard on this,” said the 27-year-old.
“I have no date to go and train with the rest of the team. I keep my cards close to my chest, because one day I’m fine by the next I’m not.
“But it shouldn’t be too long before I’m back with the squad.”
It all started with a “crack” in July, when Lejeune was accidentally caught behind his knee.
“It was just a very stupid thing to happen, just a stupid kick behind my knee, and I heard a noise, like it was cracking – that was it,” said Lejeune, signed from Eibar last year.
“I knew something was serious when I heard the crack, but it was OK. I could run, I could walk. I could do loads of things, and I felt sort of OK until I went for my scan.
“Then I had a second scan, and the two scans came back saying it was the anterior cruciate ligament.”
Lejeune opted to go with the surgeon who had operated on Rolando Aarons the season before last.
The winger was back on the training field four months after his operation, and Lejeune consul consulted him and manager Rafa Benitez before making a decision.
“I went to see the surgeons, and both said that was the case,” said Lejeune.
“It was like a big hit to the head when I found out the type of injury. You never know how long it’s going to take to recover from.
“But, thankfully, I had the support of my friends, from everyone around, from my wife, so I just thought ‘that’s it, I’ve got to deal with it and get operated by the best surgeons’, which happened in Italy.
“I had a second option – the second option was Barcelona – but I spoke to Rolando, who said everything with his surgery went really well, and I spoke to the coach.
“The coach knew the surgeon in Italy, because he had dealt with him in Naples for very similar surgeries. So it was quite obvious for me to go to Italy for it.”
Lejeune’s wife joined him in Rome, where their daughter was born.
“I was very, very happy to be back in Newcastle,” said Lejeune, who impressed in the second half of last season as the club climbed the Premier League table.
“This sense of coming back to the team, feeling that I belonged to the group, because in Rome I was on my own. I was totally separated from everyone else, so it was really good to be back.
“It’s a long process. I’m here twice a day, doing two training sessions a day. In the mornings I’m here (in the gym), on the afternoons I’m on the pitch.
“So I’m working on getting better soon – hopefully.”
Lejeune has been a frustrated spectator so far this season, and he’s keen to join his team-mates on the pitch sooner rather than later.
Newcastle are bottom of the Premier League, having failed to win any of their first nine games.
Lejeune, when assessing United’s start to the season, points to the club’s fixture list.
Rafa Benitez’s side faced five of last season’s top six in their opening eight games.
“It was obviously a difficult start to the season,” Lejeune told NUFC TV. “It was not the greatest of starts last season, but we had a very good second part.
“This year, the calendar wasn’t very favourable to us, but I still believe we are much better than other teams in the table.
“We just have to work on our confidence and team-work. I’m confident that it will work out.”
Lejeune, if all goes well, could be back in training next months, though he’s reluctant to put a precise timescale on his return.
What has helped him has been the messages of support he has had on social media since suffering the injury.
“I was pleasantly surprised to get so many messages,” said Lejeune.
“I didn’t expect so many, and I would like to thank them again very much for all the support that I was getting and am still getting.
“It’s been like a driving force.”