Deyan Iliev is delighted to be back playing again.

Hands up if you didn’t even know he was injured?

The young keeper was sidelined for five months with a groin injury followed by a hernia which required surgery and wasn’t expecting to be out for as long as he was, as he explains below.

“I had a groin injury and then I had a hernia surgery, so I thought I wouldn’t have been out for so long, but it wasn’t that simple.

“I was out for four months and then it was really complicated. I’m really happy to be back on the pitch and hopefully I will be able to play more.”

About being out for so long he added

“It’s a long time, especially if you’re a professional and you’re training every day.

“You don’t even train, you can’t touch the ball, you just have to wait to recover. I was a bit disappointed and a little bit down but now I’m really happy.”

“I was working on my upper body strength. I was working on some exercises to keep my strength up but I couldn’t do anything with my legs, any goalkeeping training or running.

“After the surgery it all went well so I’m happy now.”

Iliev, who turns 20 later this month, joined Arsenal in 2012 from FK Belascia and has been a regular in the youth team when fit.

READ MORE:
Best goal, player and loanee: Arsenal Youth awards 2016/17
(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Making his first start of the season, Illiev continued

“It felt really good. I can’t describe the feeling but I’m really happy. It feels really good to be back with the guys but I’m getting used to the team.

“I think it will take me a bit longer to settle in the team but it’s good to be training again, getting used to everything I had before and hopefully I’ll come back as soon as possible.”

Unlike many youngsters, Iliev is targeting a loan as his next move rather than setting his sights on progressing to the Arsenal first team.

He said about going on loan

“It’s good for Vickers and Macey. They’re going on loan, they need that experience and I am looking forward to that one day as well.

“I just need to adapt to the game again now, get used to everything and then hopefully I will be able to go on loan and get some experience.”