Arsenal have been handed a boost for the forthcoming Christmas period, as Unai Emery has confirmed that Laurent Koscielny could rmake a return to the first team as early as next week's Europa League tie with Qarabag.
Speaking after the 2-2 draw with Manchester United during the week, Emery told reporters that the defender, who hasn't played since May after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Atletico Madrid, is verging on a first-team return.
"Laurent is very close to playing for us," he said, as quoted by the club's official website. "He played two matches for the under-23s - the last one was on Tuesday.
"I don’t know if Saturday is a possibility, but we’re thinking the Europa League game against Qarabag could be a good match for him."
Koscielny's return seems to come in the nick of time, as Arsenal face setbacks with fresh injuries to Rob Holding and Aaron Ramsey - with the former suffering from what is expected to be a long layoff after limping off against United.
"The worst for us today was the news with Rob Holding," Emery added.
"We are going to wait for what the doctor tells us but it is maybe a big injury. We are going to wait, it is his knee. The other is Aaron Ramsey, but it is a small injury with him.
"After the two injuries, every player played with good commitment and mentality to keep the performance going in a difficult moment, and we could not control the game like we wanted for the 90 minutes, but for the second half it gives us confidence."