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'Super Jan' super-motivated to return

Posted on 18 February 2016  - 10:25

'Super Jan' would have loved to have been able to transport himself in a flash to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Celebrating with Kyle WalkerJan with fellow in-form Belgian Mousa Dembele

That's because as Jan Vertonghen admits, if there is one thing driving his return from injury, it's watching from the sidelines as the players and the fans together as one celebrate winning big matches - and it doesn't get much bigger or better than that dramatic late victory against Manchester City.

"I want to be involved in those celebrations too!" said Jan, who was ever-present in the Premier League with 23 starts out of 23 when he sustained a knee injury during our 3-1 win at Palace on January 23.

"I see them cheering in front of the away fans at City, I see them playing well at home to Watford or away at Norwich and it’s hard because, especially at times like this, you want to be a part of the team. That motivates me to come back as soon as possible."

One half of the central defensive partnership alongside Toby Alderweireld - who remains ever-present after 26 games - that has laid the foundations for the best defensive record in the Premier League, Jan's season took a turn for the worse when he fell awkwardly in the 72nd minute at Selhurst Park and suffered damage to his medial collateral ligament.

Such a positive influence on and off the pitch, Jan has knuckled down and his rehabilitation is right on track.

"They (the medical team) always give you a timeframe to come back and the target of the injured player coming back is always to beat that time," he explained. "I’m out of the brace now and I can walk again so I improve every day. It’s hard work and it will take time.

"I’m aiming to be back around the international break and I want to be part of the team and help however I can.

"The lads support me a lot – they come and see me every day as well as the staff. I know I’m around the best people. The lads and the gaffer do everything to give me the feeling that I’m part of this team all the time."

Below: Jan during the team's warm weather training break in Barcelona

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And there is full praise for Kevin Wimmer, the young Austrian international who stepped off the bench for his Premier League debut when he replaced Jan at Palace and has played every minute since, helping us keep two clean sheets in four games - all victories - as well as nullifying the potent threat of Sergio Aguero at City.

"I always knew Kevin was a very good player and that’s what pushes me to improve as well," added Jan. "There is competition for places all over the pitch and that’s what makes the squad so strong.

"Everyone fits in to the team easily in all competitions and that’s the strength that we have here. It’s easier to fit players in when the team is doing well even if that’s younger players from the Academy, they just fit in to that level. That’s all down to the manager and coaching staff and it’s full credit to them."