It was a long-awaited return to first-team action for Danny Welbeck on Saturday evening against Preston North End, eight months after his last senior appearance during Arsenal’s 2-2 away draw against Manchester City.
It’s been a frustrating time for the English forward, who has suffered from a long list of troublesome injuries that have hampered his development in recent seasons, dating back to his days at Manchester United.
The striker only turned 26 in the month before Christmas but seems to have been around professional football far longer, and hasn’t been blessed with the opportunity to showcase his ability on a consistent basis with knee and thigh problems a continual setback.
With five goals and two assists across the FA Cup and England’s top flight, Welbeck was showing his quality as he was gradually being eased back into the first-team with more regularity in the second-half of last season. Disaster struck and consequently ruled him out of England’s Euro 2016 squad, which would’ve drained him mentally.
Despite his lack of fortune with injuries, Arsène Wenger has remained confident that the forward can have a “dream career”, having featured as a second-half substitute at Deepdale.
As quoted by the club’s official website Wenger said, “The patience you need when you have an injury at that age… it’s terrible [to go through].”
It wouldn’t have been easy for Welbeck to watch on from the sidelines with the rest of his team-mates going on to train and play on a regular basis so with that in mind, it makes sense that Wenger revealed he was told to stay away for his own good, so he’d avoid potentially finding himself in a depressed state.
“When the players are injured they are a little bit out of my sight because I sent him away as well,” Wenger explains. “When a player has a long-term injury, sometimes it’s better you get him out and away, that he lives without the players and people who are injured as well.”
Despite Mathieu Debuchy’s recent comments suggesting he and the manager barely spoke during his injury spells, Wenger was clear about how he treated Welbeck, giving him adequate time away whilst offering support if he needed it.
“Of course we spoke with him a lot, but at the end of the day, when something like that happens to you, you deal with it on your own. But we try to support him, of course.”
It’s great to see Welbeck back fit especially given what he’s been through and we can only hope he avoids serious injuries again in future. Match sharpness is next on the agenda for a forward who will undoubtedly be eager to make up for lost time.