Aston Villa striker Nicklas Helenius has spoken of his relief at rediscovering his scoring touch upon returning to former club Aalborg BK on a season-long loan.
Helenius, 23, made a £1.2 million move to Villa last June after netting 16 times in 34 games for his childhood club during the 2012-13 season, but would go on to taste just 147 minutes of first-action over the course of the campaign in six league and cup appearances as a substitute.
Deemed surplus to requirements this summer before returning to the Danish Superliga, it’s since been revealed that the tall front man contracted a bacterial infection which left him fearing death and addicted to sleeping pills.
His career looks to have been revitalised upon moving back to Aalborg, however, having scored four goals in 15 games so far, with the latest coming earlier this week in the club’s 1-0 Europa League home win over Portuguese Group J rivals Rio Ave.
The two-times capped international admits that he struggled to get going at the beginning of the season due to his lack of fitness, but now feels he is starting to find some form with regular first-team minutes under his belt.
‘It was nice to score again. Strikers are always measured on how many goals they score and I have always wanted to decide games,’ he told Danish newspaper BT.
‘It is a pressure I like but, in retrospect, I might also have put a little too much pressure on myself since I came home from Aston Villa this summer.
‘Before my AaB comeback I have not played game in nearly 10 months. I therefore lacked sharpness, but now I'm really starting to feel like “the old Helenius”. You saw him for 60 minutes against Rio Ave. Now I just need to work on the last half hour.”
Still well-regarded in Denmark, Helenius has another two seasons left on his Villa contract, and is willing to return to the midlands next summer to prove his Premier League credentials.