Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is ahead of schedule in recovering from an ankle injury and could be ready to return to the first team. The Spain international was meant to spend four weeks on the sidelines after aggravating an ankle problem against Tottenham Hotspur, but has made a speedy recovery to force his way back into contention.
The 21-year-old has become one of Arsene Wenger's most consistent performers since breaking into the Gunners first team. Last season he was named in the Professional Footballers Association team of the year and played every minute of the club's first 11 Premier League matches of the season as a result of his reliability.
The initial prognosis regarding Bellerin's return suggested he would be available again for the top flight visit of Stoke City on 10 December. However, he is due to start first team training again – though he will miss the English Football League Cup clash with Southampton – and could return either against West Ham United or FC Basel in the next week.
"It's going really good," he told The Mirror on his recovery. "Better than I expected. It is a hard injury to recover from and a bit painful. But I am going to try to be running from this week and hopefully I'll be back on the pitch in less than four weeks."
Since being ruled out with the ankle injury Bellerin has committed his long-term future to Arsenal, temporarily ending speculation he could rejoin former club Barcelona after penning what the club have described as a "long-term" deal. Sport reported in the summer that Barca had made Bellerin their number one target to replace Dani Alves.
Bellerin insists he never had any desire to leave Arsenal and is thrilled to have put pen to paper on the fresh deal. "I'm really happy," he added. "It is what I really wanted to do all the way. It was just about setting a good contract that we were all happy with. I just can't wait to get started now."