Eddie Nketiah says he used last season’s lockdown hiatus to bulk up and to hone his technique and he believes the hard work is already paying dividends on matchday.
Recalled from Leeds last January, the striker went head-to-head with Alex Lacazette for the right to lead the Gunners line in the final months of the 2019/20 campaign before an untimely three-game suspension tempered his progress.
On Friday, the 21-year-old laid down a marker for the new season by grabbing a 10-minute hat-trick (video) as he captained England’s under-21s to a 6-0 win over Kosovo.
Having also put in a sprightly shift during the Community Shield, he’s now hoping he can continue his form into the new domestic season.
“During lockdown, I worked really hard on getting bigger and better on the ball,” he told reporters after the win in Pristina.
“I’ve used the time well and it’s good people can see the hard work. It’s something I wanted to do.
“As you go through the levels, it gets a lot harder physically so to be able to show your technique, you need that strength to cope with it. It’s nice to show that off a bit on the pitch.”
Nketiah also revealed that his parents played a big role in keeping him focused during last season’s three-month hiatus.
“They made sure I was eating the right food and had the right gym equipment,” said Nketiah.
“They’re very demanding parents who are always trying to get the best out of me. It’s great to have that support.”