Newcastle United outcast breaks silence over first-team exile
It's been nearly 16 months since Achraf Lazaar last made a first-team appearance for Newcastle United - however he is refusing to give up.
The 26-year-old was signed by Rafa Benitez in the summer of 2016 in a bid to help the Magpies gain promotion to the Premier League at the first attempt.
But while Newcastle achieved their ultimate goal - Lazaar didn't play the part he presumed he would.
Clocking up just four Championship appearances, the Moroccan was predominately used in cup matches.
His last senior outing in a black and white shirt followed in a 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest in August last year before being shipped out on loan to then Serie A side Benevento.
On his return to Tyneside this summer, Lazaar was told to train with the U23s after a switch back to Italy with Genoa failed to materialise.
However, due to the international break seeing defenders DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett called up to represent their respective countries, Lazaar was back among first-team training at Benton last week.
Admittedly, any recall to Benitez's matchday squad remains highly-unlikely - but Lazaar insists he'll be ready if an unexpected call does come his way.
“I'm training hard and I also do some training to be ready and fit," told the former Palermo man to tuttomercatoweb.
“I'm honest: I signed for Newcastle and I expect to be taken into consideration.
“But football is like that, something wrong can happen.
“But you must continue to do your job by respecting the choices.
“Do not give up. Then in January if a call comes in I have to be ready.”