Ghana midfielder Christian Atsu believes the knee surgery he underwent in May has contributed to his poor performance for Newcastle United in the Premier League this season.
The 26-year-old, who has been used mainly as a substitute this term, has failed to impress on countless occasions, leading to intense criticisms from the club's supporters.
With Newcastle still searching for their first win of the campaign after eight games, Atsu insists he will recover from his slumber.
"The surgery I had has affected me in several ways," Atsu told Hello FM.
"This is my third season with Newcastle United. My first season was when I joined them on loan from Chelsea in the Championship and had enough playing time. Eventually, we qualified back to the Premier League."
"In the second season, I played a lot of games but things have changed this time around because of the surgery I underwent before the World Cup. It has really affected my play because I've been a little slow but I'm working hard to hit top form soon," he said.
"Rafael Benitez understands my situation and he is trying his best for me. In fact, he has in a way adopted me as his son and I regard him as my father too," he added.
Atsu scored five goals and provided three assists in 32 appearances in his first season with the North East club, but played 28 games and scored two goals last season.