Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says he has found this summer a ‘struggle’ coming off the back of around 12 months out with a serious injury that saw him miss almost all of last season.
The former Arsenal midfielder looked sharp at times early in the summer, but in the last couple of friendlies, he was pushed into the front three, compensating for the lack of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah until the latter returned to pre-season training on Monday, and he seemed to find it tougher.
With intense training sessions and fitness drills galore, it is no surprise that someone who missed so much football would find it harder than most.
Via the Daily Mail, Chamberlain said: “It’s been a bit of a struggle. I forget that I haven’t played for a long time. If I am honest, the last couple of games haven’t been at the level that I want.
“A lot of the lads will feel tired in pre-season but, for me, it’s a bit more of a shock to the system.
“There is a place where I think I should be and where I want to be but there is a reality of the process that I am going through. It’s going to be peaks and troughs.
“Hopefully, I’m at the stage where it will keep improving. I just try to remind myself I have been through the worst of it.”
Looking ahead to the new season, Chamberlain will probably have to settle for a place on the bench more often than not, but that will suit him as he continues to build up his fitness.
As players to come on and make an impact late in games go, there are few better in the Premier League than the number 15.