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Walcott: 'I've been kicked by Flamini in training a few times already!'

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Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has expressed his happiness at returning from injury and completing 45 minutes with an appearance for the club’s U21 side on Friday evening.

Walcott has been on the sidelines for more than nine months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury during January’s FA Cup third-round clash against Tottenham.

25-year-old Walcott, who came out of the game unscathed, started a goalless draw with Blackburn before he was replaced by youngster Alex Iwobi at half-time

“It’s been a hard, long nine months and first I’ve got to say a big thank you to the Arsenal medical team and my family – I wouldn’t be here without them”, said Walcott.

“I’ve had so much support throughout and it’s nice to kick a ball again.

“It’s not just a job for me. It’s something I enjoy doing. The manager will choose to play me when he wants and we need to manage [my recovery] well.

“I’ve been whacked by Mathieu Flamini a few times already so that [physical] side of it is not a problem at all! Not many people managed to keep up with me tonight, I didn’t get any knocks tonight. I feel fine.

“I’m very excited. It’s nice to put on the Arsenal shirt again.”

19-year-old Serge Gnabry also made his return from injury in the draw against Blackburn and will be hoping to replicate the form of last season where he enjoyed a breakthrough campaign.

Gnabry impressed in perfroamnces against Swansea City, Crystal Palace and Tottenham before a knee problem ended his season.

The highly-rated German youngster faces a difficult path to first team football with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla all ahead of him in the pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

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