Gabriel Paulista
Gabriel has become a first-team regular in recent weeksGetty

Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista has returned to former club Vitória to receive treatment for an injury, the Brazilian club have confirmed.

Gabriel, 25, missed the 2-1 win over Leicester City on 14 February with a slight hamstring injury, having previously been expected to start against the Premier League leaders.

The former Villarreal defender has become a regular first-teamer for the Gunners in recent weeks, and his latest knock prompted speculation whether he will be ready in time for the club's FA Cup fifth-round meeting with Hull City.

Arsenal take on Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 clash the following Tuesday and travel to Old Trafford for a huge Premier League showdown with Manchester United five days later.

Gabriel has started Arsenal's last four games since coming off the bench against Chelsea in late January and, given his growing importance, the club will be desperate to have him back for the upcoming run of fixtures that could define their season.

But in a slightly unusual move, Gabriel has returned to Vitória, where he spent four years before leaving for Europe. In a brief statement, Vitória confirmed the "distinguished visit" of their former player, adding he is undergoing treatment for a muscular injury while visiting the club's facilities in Salvador.

"The confidence I have in all this is very important, I have great affection for this [Vitória] shirt. Vitória is a real family and I am very happy to see the club as well. It feels like home," Gabriel said via the same statement.

Gabriel, who joined the Gunners from Villarreal during last season's January transfer window, was brought into the first-team after Per Mertesacker was sent off during the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on 24 January, replacing Olivier Giroud during the first half. He completed 90 minutes in games against Burnley, Southampton and Bournemouth prior to his latest injury.