Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are set for their first outing since returning from injury when the Arsenal U21 side take on the Blackburn reserves in the U21 Premier League division 2 playoff game on Tuesday (3 May). The Gunners second string is aiming to secure promotion and could be aided by the experience of the two senior players, who are looking to build match fitness before the end of the season.
The Spain international is returning from a five-month absence due to knee and Achilles injuries, while the England international has been out for just over two months with a knee injury he sustained in the first-leg of the last-16 clash against Barcelona in the Champions League. The duo will be looking to prove their fitness in the hope of convincing their respective national team bosses as they select the squad for the European Championship finals in France later this year.
Arsene Wenger had indicated ahead of Arsenal's win over Norwich City on Saturday (30 April) that the players who have recently returned from injury will take part in the U21 fixture if they miss out of first-team action. Cazorla was named in the first-team squad but remained on the bench for the entire duration, while Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to make the squad as he returned to training one week later than the Spaniard.
Apart from the duo, Jack Wilshere, who is also making his way back from injury, could feature in the game against Blackburn after having already made three appearances for the U21 side, while also making a brief appearance for the first-team during their 0-0 draw against Sunderland on 24 April. The north London club are allowed to field a maximum of three players above the age of 21, and it is likely Wenger will hand the trio an opportunity to build fitness before deciding whether to give them playing roles in the remaining two games of the season against Manchester City (8 May) and Aston Villa (15 May).
"We have to decide that at the weekend. Let's focus on tomorrow's game and after that the players who do not play will have the opportunity to get some competition on Tuesday because we play at Emirates Stadium," Wenger said ahead of Arsenal's 1-0 win over Norwich City, as quoted by the club's official site.