Mikel Arteta has confirmed Thomas Partey will be available for Arsenal’s crucial Europa League second leg against Benfica if he ‘feels good’ after a final training session on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old was spotted in training on Tuesday at London Colney after recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in the defeat at Aston Villa at the beginning of the month.
It was the Ghana international’s third significant injury since joining the Gunners from Atletico Madrid in the summer in a £45million deal, having been out with two separate thigh issues between November and January.
But speaking at his press conference ahead of the second leg in Athens, Arteta confirmed Partey will be available for selection as long as there are no more complications.
‘Thomas is very close [to returning],’ Arteta said.
‘He’s got a final test today in training today. If he’s feeling good he will be available to play the match.’
Arsenal failed to capitalise on the opportunities they created and had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their ‘away’ leg of the tie against Benfica, with Bukayo Saka cancelling out Pizzi’s penalty in Rome.
Partey has endured a frustrating, injury-hit start to his Arsenal career following his move to the Premier League, playing just 682 minutes of Premier League action since his debut as a substitute against Manchester City.
He suffered a thigh injury in the home reverse by Aston Villa in early November, which kept him out for a month, before suffering a similar injury in his return game in the north London derby.
But his latest return will provide a timely boost for Arteta, who described their ‘home’ last-32 second leg against Portuguese outfit Benfica as a ‘cup final’ following their defeat to City – their eleventh of this season’s top-flight campaign – at the weekend.
The Gunners are six points behind Everton in seventh, and sit eleven points behind West Ham who currently occupy the final Champions League spot.