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The France midfielder featured for the first 45 minutes of the defeat to Chelsea Under-21s and could now be in contention to feature for the first-team before the end of the season

Abou Diaby returned to action for the first time in over a year as he featured for 45 minutes in Arsenal Under-21s' defeat to Chelsea Under-21s.

The 27-year-old's last appearance prior to Tuesday's clash in the Under-21 league was against Swansea City back in March 2013, where he suffered knee ligament damage.

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Diaby returned on Tuesday night, however, playing the first half of the fixture against Chelsea Under-21s, where goals from Lewis Baker and John Swift claimed a 2-1 win for the Blues.

He was replaced at half-time of the meeting at Emirates Stadium and having seemingly come through 45 minutes of action unscathed, manager Arsene Wenger has suggested he could be close to a first-team return.

When asked if Diaby could still play a part for the Gunners before the end of the season, Wenger told the club's official website: "Yes of course, it depends how well he comes out of the game [against Chelsea Under-21s].

"He hasn't played for a year but physically he is ready to play, completely. It is now just decision-making, getting used to challenges again. He needs a game.

"Everybody [counted him out] but he is fit and ready."

Diaby has made just a handful of appearances for the Gunners over the last couple of years but is targeting a shock late charge for the France squad for the 2014 World Cup.

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