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Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Rob Elliot says he had a full physical overhaul during his enforced injury break this summer.
The Newcastle United goalkeeper suffered Euro 2016 heartache, missing out on Martin O'Neill's 23-man squad for France after he tore his cruciate knee ligaments in Ireland’s 2-2 friendly draw against Slovakia at the Aviva Stadium last March.
Elliot says he also underwent a procedure on his thigh while recuperating from his knee operation, and hopes to be pain-free going into the new season.
"It’s quite a cliche for footballers coming back from injury to say they’re feeling stronger," he said.
"But in my case, with the tendon being repaired, I could barely kick a ball towards the end of last season, getting it to the halfway line only.
"My kicking has always been one of my strengths and I lost a bit of that.
"I’m hoping with the work I do in the gym on my thigh and knee that I’ll come back stronger and feel 100 percent — as I haven’t been like that for a year or two."
Elliot, 30, was new manager Rafael Benitez's first choice at St James Park last season, following the injury to Tim Krul, but only got two matches to impress the Spaniard before suffering his own injury on international duty.
The Londoner admits he faces a struggle to win back his place, following the addition of Matz Sels, a £4.5 m signing from KAA Gent, to a goalkeeping roster that already includes Krul and Karl Darlow.
"The manager phoned me when the club signed Matz and said 'I'm really happy with you, it’s good competition. But I like you as a goalkeeper so don’t worry'," Elliot continued.
"I told him that competition was good, it only makes you better. It was nice of him to do that he didn’t have to, he could have waited until I saw the transfer.
"It’s good that he’s brought me over [to Ireland for the pre-season training camp] and it’s good that he’s told me that he likes me as a 'keeper but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to come back into the team."