Afobe grateful to 'big brother' Van Persie

BIG Brother will be watching Benik Afobe’s progress at the Reebok with keen interest, according to Wanderers ’ new strike star.

The youngster, who has made an encouraging start to life in Bolton since signing on loan from Arsenal, is expecting his former Emirates mentor Robin van Persie to drop by after his recent £24million move down the road to Manchester United .

Afobe says the Dutchman helped keep his spirits up whilst sidelined for half of last season with a groin injury, and his advice also helped make up his mind to spread his wings and leave North London to further his development.

“I’m sure I’ll see him at some point because Manchester isn’t far away,” the England Under-19s international said. “He’s a nice guy and he helped me a lot last season when I was injured. It will be nice to get a chat with him.

“Last season I was out for more than six months and when he was younger, he used to get injured quite a lot too. He helped to keep me motivated and asked about my rehab.

“When I came out here he told me this was a big year for me and that I had to work hard, concentrate and focus.

“He was just like a big brother.”

Afobe made a strong case for inclusion against Nottingham Forest tomorrow night with a lively display from the bench in Tuesday night’s victory over Derby County.

He nearly capped his cameo with a goal but is taking nothing for granted as he fights for a first-team spot with Kevin Davies , Marvin Sordell and David Ngog – who is now back in training but unlikely to feature until the trip to Hull City at the earliest.

“Anywhere you go there is going to be competition for starting places or even places on the bench, and I think we’ve got more than just a good starting team, we’ve also got good players on the bench too,” he said.

“There are even good players who are not getting in the squad at the minute, so with 40-odd games and the cups coming up, I know I’ll get my chance to start.

“This was only my second game so I’ll take my time, and hopefully in the future I’ll be starting games.

“The main thing was to get the win after Saturday’s result at Burnley.

“Any footballer will tell you that when you lose, the dressing room is not a nice place to be, especially straight after the game.

“The manager spoke to us and the coaching staff spoke to us, but most importantly the players know it wasn’t good enough, so I’m glad we got the result to put things right a bit.”

Afobe had been promised first-team action at Arsenal in the cup competitions this season but knew the majority of his games would be for the club’s development squad.

And Wanderers fans have wasted no time in taking him under their wing – christening the pacy striker “Obi-Wan Afobe” after his pre-season hat-trick against Tranmere Rovers.

But by his own admission, the Star Wars reference was rather lost on someone who was just six years old when the Phantom Menace hit the cinema screens.

“To be honest, I’ve never watched Star Wars, but when the fans started calling me that, I had to Google it,” he said.

“I’m up to speed now... I understand it!”

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