Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Fabregas set for Arsenal return

Cesc Fabregas

Arsenal are set to be boosted by the return of fit-again captain Cesc Fabregas after the international break, while England forward Theo Walcott may also be available for the crunch trip to Manchester City in two weeks' time.

Fabregas has not featured since injuring a hamstring when scoring a bizarre goal at Sunderland on September 18, while Walcott's fine early season form was halted by a badly sprained ankle during England's Euro 2012 qualifier win in Switzerland at the start of September.

However, Spain midfielder Fabregas has now declared himself fit, although he will not be involved in Spain's games against Lithuania or Scotland.

Walcott is making good progress but will not rush his recovery, with the trip to Eastlands on October 24 perhaps a more realistic target than when Birmingham visit Emirates Stadium in the first match following the internationals.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is also expected to have recovered from the elbow injury which forced him out of the Gunners' last two matches, allowing understudy Lukasz Fabianski to impress in the 3-1 away Champions League victory over Partizan Belgrade.

Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner has not played at all this season because of a niggling groin problem after the World Cup.

The 22-year-old, though, hopes to be back in contention by the end of the month and in the "best shape ever".

Bendtner said: "Now I am ready [to train]. Some of the boys have time off because of their internationals, but otherwise I train together with the other first-team players at Arsenal and I have enjoyed myself so much. I have no pain in the groin and have trained so hard physically that maybe I am in my best shape ever.

Full-back Kieran Gibbs (calf) is also set to return after missing the England Under-21s European Championship play-off against Romania, but manager Arsene Wenger admits Thomas Vermaelen's Achilles injury suffered on the last international break is proving slow to heal.

Holland striker Robin van Persie is expected to be available again by the start of November following an ankle injury, while Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey should also be back well ahead of the Christmas programme nine months after breaking his leg against Stoke.

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