Atsu played through a series of niggling knee problems during his first two years as a Newcastle United player, but with the pain become more severe in the second half of last season, the decision was taken to undergo surgery in April.
The Ghana international missed the bulk of pre-season as he completed his recovery, and has taken a couple of months to start hitting full stride.
His only league start of the current campaign came in September’s home defeat to Leicester City, but he came off the bench in the closing stages of last weekend’s win over Bournemouth to positive effect and could well become an increasingly influential presence in the next few weeks.
“I need to give everything and work harder because, at the start of the season, I was not in good shape,” said Atsu, who is currently on international duty with Ghana preparing for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Ethiopia. “I am still getting my fitness back to where I want it to be.
“I am really working hard, and I am confident this is going to be a good season. I know I can get back to my best form.
“It has been more difficult to recover than I thought it would be. To be fair, it has been very difficult to come back from the injury. That is normal though. It was a knee injury, and they are always difficult to recover from. With time, I am going to be back to my very best football.”