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Arsenal have been handed a major boost after Danny Welbeck returned to training with the first team ahead of their clash against Burnley in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. The striker has been sidelined for over nine months with a knee injury and Arsene Wenger has made it clear that it will be a gradual process for the forward before he makes it back into the matchday squad.
The 25-year-old former Manchester United forward was pictured training with the rest of the squad on Friday and even thought the manager confirmed that he is fully fit, Welbeck is scheduled to feature for the Arsenal U21 side before he makes the step up to the senior squad. The reserves play Brighton and Hove Albion and Swansea City in the coming weeks, and the England international will be penciled in to feature for at least 45 minutes.
Welbeck's return has given Wenger an added avenue in his attacking department and this has prompted the manager to rule out any further signings this month, including a rumoured move for Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier Hernandez.
"It has to be gradual; he has to go through an under-21 game first. Danny has not played since April 2015 and we are now in February basically, so that is very long for a top-level competitor," Wenger said, as quoted by Arsenal's official site.
"You have to accept that he goes through small steps and one of them is to play in the under-21s, first for 45 minutes. He is basically fit but now it is to absorb the competition and the intensity of the competition. That is the next step for him," the Frenchman added.
The 12-times FA Cup champions, meanwhile, are ready to welcome midfield trio Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky and Mohamed Elneny into the first-team fold for the visit of the Clarets. The former two are returning from long-term injury, while the latter is set to make his first appearance following his arrival from FC Basel earlier in the month.