Playing his part

Kieron Gibbs is now hoping a new health regime will help keep him injury free for Arsenal this season and could end with a recall to the England World Cup squad. By Jim van Wijk.

The likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey have been capturing the headlines during Arsenal’s impressive start to the season but there have been others who have played a significant role.

As Ashley Cole famously argued, left-backs do not always get the recognition they deserve but Kieran Gibbs has certainly played his part for the Gunners in the early stages of the new campaign.

Gibbs is now hoping a new health regime will help keep him injury free for Arsenal this season and could end with a recall to the England World Cup squad.

Despite again being hampered by some fitness problems last season and Arsenal also signing Spain defender Nacho Monreal in a GBP8.5million deal from Malaga during the January 2012 transfer window, Gibbs enjoyed a decent campaign for the Gunners, making 29 starts.

The left-back, who had turned 24, was however not part of Roy Hodgson’s squad for the end of season friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, nor for the last round of Group H World Cup qualifiers.

Nevertheless, Gibbs — who has battled back from a broken metatarsal in November 2009 and then a hernia operation two seasons ago — retains hopes of forcing his way back into contention if his new approach can help secure a good run in the Arsenal side.

“It is the best I have felt physically,” said Gibbs, who made his England debut in August 2010 when coming on as a half-time substitute for Cole against Hungary. “I have always felt that when I am able to get a run of games, that is what I needed to kick on. I have always felt sure I could do that. Now I feel I am kicking on. I need to keep that going and stay fit. That is my main target.

“Since my thigh strain at the end of last year, I met someone new who has taken a good look at me physically and I owe him credit at the minute because he has kept me fit for the last eight to 10 months. I have to thank him for that.

“(It came) from pure frustration of getting different injuries. I had someone look at me and the person told me that ever since I broke my foot, which changed me a bit.

“Before that I never really had any injury problems. Now I feel like I am getting stronger and can cope with the amount of games.

“The work he asks me to do is not easy, but as long as it keeps me fit, I am happy. It is just extra work in the gym out of hours. To strengthen everything and just to make sure that everything is ready before and after games. It is all about recovery.”

Gibbs has both former Arsenal full-back Cole and also Everton’s Leighton Baines ahead of him in the England set-up, but remains determined to get himself back on the manager’s radar.

“It is a challenge to compete against two world-class left-backs, both at the top of their games,” he said. “I just have to see it as a challenge and stay fit and concentrate on the (Arsenal) team and give myself the best chance.”

And with Arsenal sitting pretty at the top of the English Premier League and also going well in the Champions League, this could be the season when Gibbs really comes of age.

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