Lee Johnson has revealed that he could have Benik Afobe back for the remainder of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic forcing football to be suspended.
The Bristol City manager signed Stoke City forward Afobe on a season-long loan deal last summer in the hope of reigniting his career when he made for Ashton Gate.
Under Robins boss Johnson, he hit the ground running, scoring three times in his first six league appearances.
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Then disaster struck in training back in September, when he suffered a serious knee injury that he was told would rule him out for the entire campaign – he underwent knee surgery on his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) and has, in recent weeks, slowly been working his way back out onto grass, with a ball at his feet.
The striker, who to date has scored eight times for City after arriving from Wolves in the summer of 2018, shared a social media post recently showing him practising close control in his back garden, and played a game of one-two with his garden wall!
And Johnson has confirmed that he’s well on the road to recovery, with the forward potentially set to offer his temporary club a boost in their play-off hopes if the footballing authorities see fit to complete the campaign.
“Afobe was a big, big signing for us on-loan from Stoke,” Johnson told Radio 5 Live. “Early on in the season he was fantastic, really looking like the real deal and then literally, freak incident in training.
“To have a player like that return for us would be like a new signing. He is out on the grass and he is striking a ball at the moment and that could be a really big boost for us.”
It remains to be seen whether Afobe will ever pull a red and white shirt on again, however; the Robins could make the loan deal a permanent one, despite the 26-year-old’s injury, with BristolLive claiming last month that such a deal would bank Stoke around £6m.