Returning from injury to play for the Arsenal u21s on Friday, Tomas Rosicky could be back for the first team at the weekend.
The 35-year-old midfielder is yet to feature this season after having a knee operation last summer, but the u21 appearance was the last step in his preparation for first team football. Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Burnley provides the perfect stage to reintroduce him.
Arsenal u21s have also had Mikel Arteta play this season, while Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby featured during the last campaign. It’s a good competitive level – as shown by the 0-0 draw with Swansea City on Friday – and a good opportunity for Steve Gatting to use players for Arsène Wenger’s benefit.
“Especially for those with long-term injures. It is important for them to get back used to match situations,” Gatting said after the game. “It was good to get a run around even if it is for 45 minutes. It is a good stepping stone for fitness.
“(Rosicky) 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.”
That’s the other benefit, and one which could have a huge impact on Arsenal’s future. Players like Jeff Reine-Adelaide are highly talented and playing with such an experienced professional like Rosicky could be a massive bonus.
Hopefully Tomas is available on Saturday, while Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck could all use u21 football in the next couple of weeks.