Double fitness boost for Arsenal as Mkhitaryan & Mustafi return to full training

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The Gunners have been beset by a plethora of injuries in recent times, but have been handed some good news ahead of their trip to Huddersfield

Arsenal have confirmed the return of Shkodran Mustafi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to full training, while Granit Xhaka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are also in contention to feature against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Mustafi's return is positive news for Unai Emery, who has seen his side hamstrung by defensive injuries in recent times, with the German having joined Sokratis, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding on the sidelines.

In the case of Sokratis, the Greek centre-back is expected to return to full training by the end of February, while Holding and Bellerin continue to recover following knee surgeries. Danny Welbeck is also a long-term absentee.

In midfield, Xhaka is being assessed ahead of Saturday's clash, but could feature after sitting out Arsenal's 3-1 defeat against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium due to a tight groin.


Recovery mode:  . So good to step foot on the pitch again  #GX34

A post shared by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka) on

Further up the pitch, Mkhitaryan's eligibility for selection is also good news for the Gunners, the Armenian attacker having come through the Under-23 side's match with West Ham on Monday unscathed after being out since mid-December with a foot problem.

“After a while, I came back. I started playing with the Under-23s and I'm very happy,” Mkhitaryan said. “I hope that I won't have any more injuries and I will keep playing.

“I'm thankful to everyone who has been working with me. To the medical staff, to the fitness coach and everyone, even to my team-mates. They were supporting me every day.

“It's life, everything is happening and you can get injured or something like that. I hope that no one gets injured anymore and the team can be fully fit for the next games.”

Mkhitaryan will be battling the likes of Alex Iwobi, Denis Suarez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey for a spot behind the strikers, while Maitland-Niles will face a late fitness test.

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The Gunners are currently three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and sit in sixth in the table, while they trail a revitalised Manchester United, who are unbeaten under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, by one point.

Should the club fail to finish in the top four, Emery has previously spoken of his desire to win the Europa League to seal automatic qualification for the group stage of the competition.

Arsenal's next European clash sees them take in a round-of-16 tie with BATE Borisov, with the Premier League side travelling to Belarus for the first leg on Thursday, February 14.