Danny Welbeck has returned to first team training for the first time in nine months handing Arsene Wenger a timely boost as his side gear up for the final third of the season.
The England striker, who hasn’t featured for the Gunners since limping off against Chelsea in the 0-0 draw on 26 April, has been sidelined by a persistent knee problem that required surgery in September.
Given the length of time he’s been out, it’s unlikely the 24-year-old will handed a first team opportunity for a couple of weeks, but the news is good nonetheless. It’s possible he could play for the under-21s against Brighton on 5 February.
Tomas Rosicky came through 45 minutes of Friday’s under-21 game with Swansea as Steve Gatting’s men secured a 1-1 draw.
Reflecting after the game the coach said of the veteran midfielder, “He joined us today to get some match fitness. He played for 45 minutes. He had good enthusiasm, passed the ball well and it was a good experience for the kids.”
With Francis Coquelin in line for a surprise return against Burnley this weekend – the Frenchman has been training since Thursday – and Mikel Arteta fit, albeit dropped from Sunday’s matchday squad, it gives the boss a level of squad depth he’s not had since pre-season.
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla remain the two long-term absentees.