Kal Naismith has revealed how influential Bristol City youngster Ayman Benarous was in the Scots battle to overcome multiple injury setbacks over recent months.
Naismith had two lengthy spells on the sidelines in his maiden season at BS3 due to calf issues, while Benarous was also sidelined after the midfielder suffered a second ACL injury.
The ex-Luton man frustratingly missed 22 matches for the Robins in total last term but has applauded his 20-year-old teammate’s unique ability to have a positive outlook on both Naismith’s, and his own, situation.
“Young Ayman Benarous, another young lad that when I was having my problems last year, I’d look at him and see him smiling every day and I’d say that’s how you behave,” Naismith said.
“Look at how that young lad’s dealing with it. There are always people that inspire you every day with how they behave, their attitude towards life, and towards being injured.”
The English midfielder has made steady steps to recover from injury in recent weeks, and featured in a friendly match for the Robins over pre-season.
He has since had another minor set-back, and his manager Nigel Pearson has said numerous times how careful City will be in re-introducing him to the pitch.
Naismith added: “I looked at him when he got injured and then got injured again, just how he was, picked himself right back up, was good when everyone around him was smiling.
“That’s what I mean about leaders at a club, you don't need to be 30, 31, 32 or 35, you can be the 20-year-old lad that carries himself in the right way and we are fortunate enough to have a lot of good young players. Ayman was very big for me.”
Along with Benarous, now former City man Kane Wilson also helped Naismith’s journey back to fitness. The ex-Forest Green Rovers full back has since departed for Derby County.
”Other lads that I was injured with, Kane Wilson, I was tight with Kane,” the 31-year-old said. “He was always in the gym and I liked how he worked when he was injured, that boy works, he had a great attitude, it just didn't work out for him here and that happens in football.”