Per Mertesacker has expressed his delight over returning to first-team training after spending the last six months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The Arsenal defender, who is yet to play this season after picking up the injury during pre-season in July, was put through his paces at the Gunners' training ground at London Colney on Monday (12 December). Mertesacker, however, expects to return to action only in the New Year, but revealed that it felt 'amazing' to be back with the rest of the team on the training pitch.

"It's been a long road but feels so amazing to be back training properly with the Arsenal boys again and I feel great!" the former Germany international said via his official Twitter account alongside three pictures on him in training.

Mertesacker has fallen down the pecking order during his spell on the sidelines and is likely to face tough competition for a place in the starting XI when he returns. Shkodran Mustafi, who joined from Valencia in the summer, has formed a strong understanding with Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the Arsenal back four and will be the manager's first choice when he returns from injury in three weeks' time.

Gabriel Paulista is second choice at the moment with Rob Holding also in the mix for a place in the first-team. The German defender could move ahead of the latter in terms of experience, but will have to prove his worth to be given a chance to play at least in the FA Cup games, which begin in January.

Per Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker returned to first team training on Monday (12 December) after spending six months out with a knee injury Getty

Mertesacker is out of contract at the end of the season and is yet to be offered a renewal. He has made it clear that he wants to remain at the club and is keen to prove to the Arsenal hierarchy that he deserves a new deal.