Santi Cazorla has rejected suggestions he could be forced to retire due to his ongoing injury problems, but admits he is still a long way from making his Arsenal return.
The Spanish playmaker has not featured for Arsene Wenger's side since October due to ankle and Achilles tendon problems, but his recovery has been delayed by a number of further issues.
Cazorla needed eight operations to resolve his issues, including one to have a skin graft to help his wound heal after having a bacterial infection.
Some reports had suggested Cazorla may never return to first-team action due to the complications in his rehabilitation, but he is convinced he will get back to his best.
"Do not pay attention to that [rumours of retirement]," Cazorla told Onda Cero.
"Those who want to retire me will get to see me play gain. I will return. I do not know how far I am from returning but I am convinced that I am going to play football again and at my best level.
"I am working on it and hopefully, it can be as soon as possible. I am convinced that I will come back."
He added: "The problem is that they did not know what was going on. The worst thing is in the head. But I went to Spain, they found a bacteria, and now it seems that problem is solved.
"It looks like the operations are over. Now I'm very happy, starting the recovery that is was what I wanted.
"I started the recovery two weeks ago. I'm still far away. I do not have strength in my tendon or muscle mass. I need time but I am very happy my recovery in this 15 days.
"I am fine but I do not want to set a return date because if I can't fulfil it would be a big blow."
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