Djourou - How I really suffered knee injuryBy Nick Tealehttp://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archiv ... nee-injury
Johan Djourou's knee injury was NOT sustained while on international duty with Switzerland. In fact, the defender had been suffering for some time before needing to have the operation that kept him out of action before Sunday's substitute role when replacing Mikael Silvestre. The 23-year-old made the revelation in an exclusive interview with Arsenal TV Online's 'Spotlight' programme, available on demand now. He also told the show that manager Arsène Wenger had told him the reason he allowed Kolo Toure to join Manchester City was because it was time for Djourou to become a first-team regular. The Swiss international featured prominently in Arsenal's pre-season campaign, starting five of the seven matches. However, the Gunners' final warm-up match - a trip to Valencia - was the last time he was seen in an Arsenal shirt. A week before the start of the new term he was forced to have an operation on a swollen knee. The problem had been causing Djourou concern during the pre-season but Arsenal's medical team had been keeping on top of the issue. However, it flared up during training ahead of Switzerland's friendly game with Italy, forcing the defender to require an operation.
"To be fair I had a knee problem already," he said. "So that is why the Valencia game was my last game. It wasn't something that happened with the Swiss team as has been mentioned - I'd had it for a while. I had been playing with it since the end of the season before so sometimes I had my knee being swollen up after games but it wasn't that painful. It got to the point that it was very painful and I just couldn't do anything so I had to go in [for an operation]. At the time I wasn't [aware how serious it was] because I thought I had swelling for no reason because I had no pain. I was wondering why so we had to do scans and things like that. Then, when I heard [the extent of the injury], it was a bit of a shock for me because it was something quite big and you never know what can happen with injuries like this with the knee. It is always difficult to take."
Adding to the defender's woes was the fact that this was meant to be his season to break into the first team. Last term he made 13 Premier League starts and was hopeful of more to come this campaign. The departure of Kolo Toure to Manchester City was set to open doors for the 23-year-old to make more starts this term and Djourou has revealed that is precisely what Arsène Wenger had told him over the summer. "I was really confident about being able to play this season," he said. "The boss said to me, 'I let Kolo go for you to play'. It is the thing you don't want to hear when you are injured but it is the truth. It is difficult to take on but I swallowed it and I will fight for my place next season, that is for sure."
The defender has been subject to months of rehabilitation in an attempt to be fit before the end of the season. He finally made a return to the Gunners' matchday squad at Blackburn on Monday but didn't feature from the bench. So for Djourou, the nightmare is finally over. "It is safe now," he said. "It is better than it was before, I have got no pain and it is like I have a new knee! When I look back now I just don't know how I did it. You can't move for at least two weeks, you have your leg in a brace for two weeks and you are just sitting at home. Then you can start to walk with crutches but you cannot put pressure on your knee. Then when it starts to get a bit better is when you start going in the water because then you only have a little bit of weight on your leg because you are in the water. Then you start to strengthen the leg and then do a lot of physio in Switzerland and here as well.""The boss said to me, 'I let Kolo go for you to play'."
That's a bold statement. Is there a possibility we'll see a back-up centre back coming in and Djourou and Vermaelen being first choice?