Florian Lejeune’s back training at Newcastle United – and training with a smile on his face.
The defender ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in late July. Lejeune spent two months in Rome after undergoing knee surgery in Italy.
The 27-year-old returned to the club’s training ground this month to step up his rehabilitation – and he could be back in contention by the New Year. Lejeune – who was sent to the surgeon who operated on winger Rolando Aarons the season before last – is already running and doing ball work.
Aarons suffered his injury in November 2016 – and was taking part in full training just four months later.
Manager Rafa Benitez said: “This injury, in the past, could be nine months. In our experience with this surgeon, it takes less – between four and six months. It depends what’s going on and if we have any complications.”
Lejeune has been welcomed back to the training ground by his team-mates.
He’s running and kicking the ball. He’s positive, he’s happy. You can see he’s smiling. He spent two months in Rome, and now he’s with us.Federico Fernandez
“It’s a long one, but he’s already in the gym,” said defender Federico Fernandez, signed from Swansea City in the wake of Lejeune’s injury.
“He’s running and kicking the ball. He’s positive, he’s happy. You can see he’s smiling. He spent two months in Rome, and now he’s with us.”
Fernandez would welcome the added competition that a fully fit Lejeune would bring to the squad.
“It’s good to be competitive in different positions,” said Lejeune. “Florian’s come back to the training ground. He’s recovering well. I hope he’s soon with us on the pitch.
“We need to be competitive in different positions. That helps us push each other to be better.
Newcastle’s players are preparing for the October 20 home game against Brighton and Hove Albion.
“We wish we had a game this weekend, because the international break is very long,” said Fernandez. “But, at the same time, it’s nice to have a few days’ rest to clear the mind.”