This time last season, Crystal Palace forward Christian Benteke was feeling a sharp pain in his knee which would go on to sideline him for half a year.
Upon recovering earlier in 2019, the forward said: “The first time I felt pain in my knee was at the end of last season [2017/18]. I can’t remember if it was a kick or a bad landing. When we came back and I scored [against Halmstads BK] during the pre-season in Sweden, I felt something quite sharp.”
The injury would sideline Benteke for the first half of the 2018/19 campaign, forcing him into a lengthy absence as his club battled away in the Premier League. He described being unable to play as “hard because you feel like you are not with them [the team].”
Now, however, a year later and into another pre-season tour for the Eagles, Benteke says he feels “great”.
And after netting within two minutes last night against FC Luzern, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t.
“I felt really, really great,” he told Palace TV following the match. “The main thing is to get the fitness up and be a little bit sharper but I think overall I’m happy because I feel great.
“I think for me it’s going to be a really important pre-season. I just want to stay fit, take care of my body and everything will be all right. Last season I was unlucky with my injury during the pre-season but hopefully this season will be a different story.”
Another Palace forward to have been unfortunate with injury over last season was Connor Wickham, who featured alongside Benteke in yesterday’s first half.
The 26-year-old former Sunderland man was sidelined following a knee injury against Swansea City in November 2016 and suffered from that point onwards.
Last night’s partnership between Wickham and Benteke, then, was all the more significant as it capped-off a troubling period for the pair who looked sharp and energised pulling on the red and blue.
“I think for me and especially for him, [it’s important] to stay fit,” Benteke said. “Last season was a different story, we picked up a lot of injuries but hopefully he’s going to stay fit and I’m going to stay fit and we’ll be dangerous up front.”
You can hear more from Christian as well as Roy Hodgson, Wayne Hennessey and Sam Woods alongside full, free highlights of last night’s clash by heading to Palace TV. Either click here or ‘Palace TV’ in the app.