Arsene Wenger has provided a positive update on Arsenal's recent fitness woes, confirming that Jack Wilshere is among a trio of players to have returned to first-team training. The oft-injured midfielder has not played a single minute of competitive football in 2015/16, after sustaining a hairline crack to his left fibula during an accidental training ground collision in early August.
Despite that lengthy lay-off, Wilshere is still thought to remain in England manager Roy Hodgson's plans ahead of the European Championship finals in France. The 24-year-old is expected to make his first appearance of the season during an U21 Premier League fixture against Newcastle United on Friday 8 April, although Wenger insists the club are yet to make any final decision with regards to a specific recovery time-frame.
"Wilshere and [Tomas] Rosicky are back in full training," he told Arsenal's official website. "Basically they are all progressing well."
On a potential return to U21 action, he added: "Not yet, no, we have not decided that yet. It is his first week back in full training and we'll see how he responds to that, but the first signs are quite good. We'll assess our options next week."
Rosicky's recovery has come earlier than expected. He suffered a thigh injury on his return from a lengthy absence following knee surgery during an FA Cup fourth-round victory over Burnley in January. That latest blow provoked fears he had played his final game for Arsenal, with an expiring contract unlikely to be renewed this summer.
Joining Wilshere and Rosicky back in training is Petr Cech. The experienced goalkeeper, who has been praised for his consistent performances since a £10m ($14.3m) switch from Chelsea in June 2015, was already carrying a groin problem before a meeting with Swansea City earlier this month. He later hurt his calf while sprinting back to his goal after an attacking corner during the latter stages of a dismal 2-1 defeat.
Cech's previous confirmation that he would be back after the recent international break gave hope he would be fit for the visit of Watford on 2 April. Wenger, however, believes that fixture may come a little too soon.
"Cech is going back to normal training. It's too early to say if he will be available for the weekend. He might be a bit short to be competitive."
Wenger also sounded hopeful that Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini could both return at West Ham United next weekend, after suffering from thigh and hamstring issues respectively. Santi Cazorla has begun running outside but is expected to require approximately three to four weeks of training before he can be considered for selection. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is said to be "progressing well" in his recovery from a knee injury picked up in the Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat to Barcelona.