Gabriel Jesus is set to travel with the Arsenal squad for tonight’s Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon, reports goal.com.
The striker has not played for Arsenal since the World Cup having injured his knee while playing for Brazil in Qatar. But he has been stepping up his recovery in recent weeks and on Saturday he joined in the post-game warm down with the substitutes after Arsenal’s 3-2 win against Bournemouth.
That was seen as a major step forward for Jesus and yesterday he joined in full training with the squad at London Colney ahead of the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash at Sporting.
Jesus is expected to be on the plane to Lisbon with the travelling squad, which left London yesterday. It’s not yet clear whether he will be included in the actual matchday squad by Mikel Arteta, but just his presence on the plane is another big indication that Jesus’ long-awaited return is imminent.
Mikel Arteta’s side face Sporting Lisbon this night in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 clash. They will then turn their attention to a London derby clash with Fulham on Sunday.
Jesus gave Arsenal fans something to cheer about as he got involved in his first full training session with the club since November.
A regular for his new club in the early part of the season, the Brazil striker picked up an injury while representing his country at the World Cup in Qatar. The knee problem ended up requiring surgery, ensuring Arsenal have had to use understudies, Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard, at the point of their attack.
Arteta has been reluctant to commit to a concrete return date for the 25-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in a £45 million summer move. Jesus is back on the training pitch, though, and was put through his paces ahead of today’s Europa League game against Sporting Lisbon.
Arsenal travel to Portugal off the back of a comeback victory over Bournemouth, a fourth straight win in the Premier League. It came at a cost, though, with January signing Trossard forced off with an injury.
“It is a worry, he came to me straight away and said he couldn’t continue, he’d felt something when he was tracking back, so we had to take him off. We’ll assess him and see how he is,” Arteta said after the Belgian lasted less than half an hour.
Trossard and Nketiah were both absent from training, potentially calling Jesus into action sooner than anticipated. If the Brazilian isn’t deemed ready, though, Gabriel Martinelli could reprise the central role he took for part of the Bournemouth game.
The last-16 game could provide an option for January signing Jakub Kiwior to make his long-awaited debut. The Polish international has been on the bench for the last seven Premier League games, but has yet to make it onto the pitch.
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