Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted centre-forward Danny Welbeck could make his long-awaited return in Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash with Preston North End. The 26-year-old has been out of action since May 2016, suffering his second serious injury just months after recovering from a knee operation, but has returned to training and could be given a few minutes in the FA Cup on the weekend to build up his match fitness.
“I haven’t decided yet, but he could be (in line to play at Preston),” said Wenger. “It depends on Lucas a little bit, it also depends on how he feels. Physically his fitness is at quite a good level, but of course the ideal way is to give him two or three games with the under-23s. But the situation is not always ideal, sometimes you have to hurry up,” he added.
Danny Welbeck has recovered sooner than expected but Wenger is very mindful of his poor injury record in the last two years. The Arsenal manager doesn’t want to bring the Englishman back too soon, and revealed Welbeck has been very sensible by not rushing his return.
“He wants to play. But Danny is as well conscious (of taking his time). He came back after a long injury and had a setback so he suffered a lot. At the moment, I think he listens well to what people advise him to do, even if he is naturally impatient. After you’ve been out for such a long time you do not want a setback.”
The long-serving coach also revealed Welbeck could have been leading the line for Arsenal had he been fit earlier in the season, saying: “ Yes, it could have happened. That’s the coincidence sometimes of the availability and injuries and it’s true. Danny and Alexis (Sanchez) are similar types of players, in the fact that they both love to play on the left. But they can both play through the middle and there is always an uncertainty on where their best position is.”
Arsenal are 4/11 to win against Preston North End on Saturday evening. Could Welbeck play a part?