Welbeck closing in on return as Arsenal injuries clear up

Date published: Friday 29th January 2016 11:09

Danny Welbeck (l) & Francis Coquelin (r): On the mend

Danny Welbeck (l) & Francis Coquelin (r): On the mend

Danny Welbeck is closing in on a return to first-team action and Francis Coquelin could feature against Burnley in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger revealed Arsenal are close to a full bill of health with only Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla now missing from training.

Wilshere, 24, has been missing for six months after fracturing his left fibula, while Cazorla’s knee proble has seen him miss the last two months.

England man Welbeck, who has not played for 10 months following a knee problem, though is on the comeback trail and will feature in a couple of Under-21 games before returning to the first-team squad.

“The team news is quite good because we have many players in full training. The only ones who are off training are Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla,” said Wenger, whose side are aiming to win a third straight FA Cup.

“It has to be gradual, and he has to go through under-21 games,” added Wenger, talking about Welbeck.

“Danny has not played since April and we are now in February so that is very long for a top-level competitor. That means you have to accept that he goes through small steps and one of them is to play in the under-21s for the first 45 minutes.

“He is basically fit but now he has to absorb the competition, the intensity of the competition, and that becomes the next step for him.”

Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky are ahead of Welbeck and are set to return to action over the weekend.

Coquelin and Rosicky (both knee) are likely to be involved against Burnley in the FA Cup, while Wenger confirmed new £5million signing Monhamed Elneny and keeper David Ospina will also start.

“We have to earn the right to qualify. I will make some changes for the game,” added Wenger, who is aware that Championship high-fliers Burnley will pose a threat to his side.

Wenger, who will be without the banned Per Mertesacker, added: “They compete at the right level. We went to Sheff Weds and got quite a bad defeat so we must learn from that.”

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