Arsenal boss Unai Emery has said that he needs Mesut Ozil's skills and quality ahead of some testing matches, but added that the attacking midfielder will need to continue to impress in training sessions if he wants to play.
The Gunners' top earner has been used sparingly under Emery's watch, with the Spanish boss asserting that others deserved to play ahead of him after being left out of the matchday squad.
Time in the stands had led to calls for Ozil to be moved on in order to get his sizeable wage off the books, but Ozil himself remains committed to the Arsenal cause.
Now, after much speculation from the outside, Emery claims that the German is close to being brought back into the starting XI after poor health and an attempted robbery had lowered his fitness level.
“This year started difficult for him,” the manager told a press conference. “He worked well in pre-season and he was playing in the games. But then the problem he had along with Sead [Kolasinac] stopped him.
“After that he was sick for one week and then he lost a lot of training to keep his fitness. But in the last two to three weeks he’s improved with us in training and I think it’s good.
“I didn’t close the possibility for him to play. Because I want him to be OK and ready with being available for training and giving us a good feeling every day. Then he can play. My idea is to use every player and he is one.
“The player can help us. He has very big skills and quality we will need in the next matches. I am happy now how he is improving and training every day. He is one player more in that squad.”
Quizzed further on his previous comments on others being more deserving of a place in the squad ahead of Ozil, Emery detailed his reasoning.
“When I said that it was because, at that moment, [others were] maybe physically [fitter] and also had more [match] rhythm. It depends what we need from players in each match. They were in front of him at that moment.
“But now I am telling you I am feeling better with him every day in training and also he is another possibility in the squad now to play and to help us.”
Whether Ozil is part of Emery's plans for Arsenal's trip to Sheffield United on Monday remains to be seen, but the manager took time to praise Chris Wilder's well-drilled outfit and insists the Gunners are ready for a challenging 90 minutes.
“They are playing well with a lot of players who have come from the Championship. They are a tough team and with their supporters they will push us very hard but we are ready.
“We want to give them a good 90 minutes.”