Cazorla: I’m still far from playing

Santi Cazorla is desperate to get back to full fitness following nine months of rehabilitation but says his Arsenal return is still a long way off.

The 32-year-old has undergone a number of surgeries following an Achilles injury in October 2016 as doctors struggled to resolve the issue.

After months of misdiagnosis, it was reportedly discovered that bacteria in the injury was the cause his ongoing problem.

Cazorla has now spoken of how hard it has been to remain focused through numerous setbacks but remains determined to get back to his best.

He told radio station Ondo Cero: "I started my recovery two weeks ago. I'm still far [from playing]. I do not have strength in my tendon or muscle mass.

"I am fine but I do not want to set a return date because if I can't fulfil it would be a big blow. I only think about the day to day. I really want to play again and I will work to get back as soon as possible."

He further explained: "The problem that I have had up until now is that the doctors didn't know what problem I had. They operated and operated and the wound kept opening. And then I had a problem in my mind because the doctors couldn't give me an explanation.

"And then the doctor found the bacteria, I had to go in for more surgeries, but at least we knew what it was. Now I have to slowly come back to training but the danger of the bacteria has passed."

He continued: "I do not know how far I am [from returning] but I am convinced that I am going to play football again and at my best level. I am working on it and hopefully, it can be as soon as possible. I am convinced that I will come back."

Cazorla also dismissed reports that he was set to retire from football as a result of his ongoing injury problems.

"Do not pay attention to that. Those who want to retire me will get to see me [play] again. I will return.

"I ended up thinking that I would never again play football at my current level. I would come out of the operating theatre with everything fine, then have a relapse.

"My son asks me every day whether I will be able to play once again. I'm very eager to get back out on the pitch, and I hope it will be soon."