Brighton & Hove Albion winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh explained he has come through a gruelling period of the season after jetting off to the Asian Cup following a two-month layoff with a hamstring injury.
The Iranian picked up the injury in the 3-1 defeat at Everton back in November and faced a race against time to be fit for the Asian Cup in January.
He said, “I didn’t expect it to be that long, but it kept me out for more than eight or nine weeks.
“It just happens and it’s part of football. Once I was fit, I had to go for international duties so it was a tough time, to be honest.
“Mentally and physically, it was a tough time but I just passed that difficulty and now I am in good form, I feel good, I need to play more games to get back to full confidence. Even before I went to the Asian Cup, I was fit, but it was a risk that I would probably re-injure it.
“But I had to go and play those international games, because it was an important tournament for my country.”
The winger praised his national side for easing him back to action in the competition, and feels his participation in the tournament aided his recovery.
“It was a risk to play at the beginning [of the Asian Cup] but they [Iran] were really careful with me and they also promised the club they were going to look after me and not force anything.
“In the first two games, I didn’t play and in the third I started, but I wasn’t playing 90 minutes.
“It was 65 or 70 minutes which helped me be at full fitness because we had to play every three or four days, which was quite tough.”
Jahanbakhsh has played in a couple of different positions for Albion, on both the left flank and in the number 10 role, and is hopeful of breaking his goalscoring duck in the next few weeks.
“The gaffer wanted me to play as a number ten at West Brom and now on the left side - it's good to be flexible and play different positions and it’s good to be back.
“It doesn’t matter as long as you are playing, getting good minutes, playing with the boys, which is always a good feeling.
“Scoring a goal is a target I am looking forward to. There have been opportunities but it is not like every ball is going in.
“I tried a couple of times at West Brom and also against Derby but it will come, I am pretty sure.”