Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli has opened up on the severity of the knee injury that kept him out of first team action for nearly six months.
The highly-rated youngster signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2019 and made an instant impact during the early stages of his career in north London.
He was singled out for praise by Jurgen Klopp following the Gunners' 5-5 draw with Liverpool in the Carabao Cup in October 2019, and had recorded 10 goals and four assists in 26 appearances in all competitions prior to lockdown.
However, Martinelli's season was cut short in June when he suffered a knee injury in training, and this would leave him sidelined until December.
"I was about to receive the ball and felt a little pain on my knee,' Martinelli told the Daily Mail. "Not enough for me to stop practising, but, while we were on the finishing session, I told them that I was in pain. They told me to rest and, if I felt the pain the next day, to let them know.
'When I woke up, I felt it but I was able to walk. I thought it was nothing at first, but it was a pain I'd never felt before. I went to the club for the examinations and they said it was not good and I would need surgery. It broke me. I cried a lot."
Martinelli's return to action has coincided with Arsenal's upturn in fortunes, with the 19-year-old starting the Gunners' successive wins over Chelsea and West Brom. However, he admitted he will need to be patient when it comes to playing the full 90 minutes.
"Mikel talked to me during my recovery," Martinelli added. "Always calling me to know how I was, even when I returned to Brazil for a time in August. When the club needed me, he talked to me again, asking if I was feeling ready to play.
"I said, yes. I still feel a bit of pain in the knee, but the doctors say that it is fine. I've not been able to play 90 minutes yet, but it also needs time. My focus is on getting better and helping Arsenal."