Santi Cazorla returns to the turf ahead of Europa League semi-final clash

Having been sidelined since October 2016 as a result of debilitating Achilles and ankle problems, firm fan favourite Santi Cazorla returned to the turf in a squad training session at the Emirates before Arsenal’s first leg Europa League semi-final encounter against Atletico Madrid – subject a report published by Evening Standard.

Over the course of 10 vital operations, the Spaniard lost 8 centimetres from the tendon in the right ankle and many were sceptical to whether the diminutive midfielder would be able to lace up his boots again, but the sight of his presence within the squad will please the ‘Gooners’ in the terraces, as well as Arsene Wenger in the dressing room.

Wenger confirmed earlier in April that the Gunners could extend the playmaker’s current contract at the north-Londoners, especially as it’s due to expire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, and the 33-year-old aims to be back in competitive contention come 2019.

Cazorla was perilously close to losing his right foot through a gangrene infection, a harrowing prospect indeed when considering the fundamental worth his studied right wand brings to ‘Le Prof’s’ fold from set-pieces, although the adaptable marksman’s a resilient character and his career journey, seemingly, wasn’t going to cease just yet.

Jogging with Arsenal’s head of performance Shad Forsythe, Cazorla appeared gleeful of his inclusion and even partook in a series of ball drills where he is definitely most comfortable, rather than the physician’s bench, and those in attendance will be anticipating a full recovery, even if there’s still a long, arduous road ahead in his rehabilitation program.

Earlier in April, Wenger adoringly expressed: “Yes, of course. We miss him a lot.

“I never spoke about it in the press conferences, or not many times, as he was not the subject of the day but we have missed him a lot in our game.

“He is an exceptional football player and it is very sad what happened to him, and very sad for Arsenal as well.”
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ac4DVCWrSjA]

Watch Arsenal v Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg exclusively live tonight on BT Sport 2 from 7:30pm. BT Sport is where the best go head to head, bringing you live coverage of the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. For more information, visit www.BT.com/sport

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