Mikel Arteta has praised Calum Chambers after his return to first-team training following his long-term injury.
The defender has been out since suffering a serious knee problem in the 1-2 loss at home to Chelsea back in December.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash with Rapid Vienna, the Spaniard claimed that he wants the player back in the squad.
Arteta said: “He’s a fantastic character. He went through the injury in an incredible way, everyone that’s involved with him during the rehab, during training, says incredible things about him. We want to have him back and I think he’s very close.” (via Arsenal)
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The England international enjoyed a sensational time during the first half of last season starting regularly across centre-back and right-back prior to his fitness issue. He proved to be an invaluable asset and with David Ornstein claiming that the Gunners are on the lookout for a right-sided centre-back in January, Chambers could yet make the grade in N5.
It was the £13.5m-rated former Southampton man’s form which saw him play so regularly for the Reds at the beginning of last season. Despite missing half the season, Chambers averaged the third-most tackles in the Premier League. That’s a testament to how well the ace played, and if he can capture his pre-injury form there could well be a spot up for grabs in the backline.
Where Arsenal will benefit most from the re-introduction of the defender is possessing experienced home-grown players. Prior to this campaign, there was just Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney as the experienced two home-grown players in the squad. The majority of the British players were young talent, who had made their way through the academy. Having another man to learn from, someone they are more likely to relate to as opposed to a foreign player could work wonders.
Chambers’ return is both a big boost for himself and Arteta. He has the time to prove to the Spaniard that he can fill the void that will be left by the departures of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis following the expirations of their contracts next summer.