Per Mertesacker has handed Arsenal an injury boost after suggesting that he is nearly 100% fit as he prepares for his comeback from a knee injury he suffered before the start of the season. The German defender has not made a single appearance this season and is likely to find it difficult to break back into the first-team squad owing to Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi's blossoming partnership.
"Yoga has been a really important part of my rehab, helping me get back to peak physical condition!" Mertesacker wrote via his official twitter account. "Nearly there," the former Germany international added with a 100 sign that suggested he was talking about his fitness.
Arsene Wenger named the former Werder Bremen defender the captain before the start of the season, but his former defensive partner Koscielny has been leading the side in his absence. Mertesacker is likely, at best, to get a place on the bench when he returns, as he is also behind Gabriel in the pecking order at the moment. However his presence in the dressing room can be huge as he is highly regarded by his teammates.
The 2014 World Cup winner is likely to be used mainly in the domestic cup competitions and provide backup for compatriot Mustafi in the league and Champions League. Mertesacker's return to fitness will also possibly limit Rob Holding's involvement in the first-team as Wenger will have four senior central defenders at his disposal.
The German defender is out of contract at the end of the season and the club are yet to open talks over a new deal. The 31-year-old has made it clear that earning a new Arsenal contract is his priority before the end of the season and has dismissed reports linking him with other clubs.
Hector Bellerin, meanwhile, is set to be sidelined for at least a month after sources close to IBTimes UK revealed that the right-back had damaged ankle ligaments during the Gunners' 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. The Spaniard is expected to return to action only December which rules him out of crucial clashes against Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain among others.