Arsène Wenger says he is looking forward to welcoming “technical leader” Mikel Arteta back into the Arsenal squad.

A thigh injury has prevented the Spanish midfielder from making a competitive appearance this season but he could return to the squad for Sunday’s meeting against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium.

“We have no injuries from the Marseille game,” the boss told Arsenal Player. “The only player who could come back in the squad is Arteta, who comes back into full training today [Friday]. I'll have to make the decision about him on tomorrow [Saturday] morning.

He is very influential and he's a leader - one of the leaders of the team

Arsène Wenger

“He is very influential and he's a leader - one of the leaders of the team and he's a technical leader as well.

“We are happy to have him back as well because at the moment with the number of injuries we have, we are a bit short and we have plenty of games in front of us, so it's good news.”

With no fewer than five midfielders currently injured, Arteta’s return carries a heightened importance, and Wenger believes that depth in the centre of the park will become crucial over the course of the season.

“I believe Arteta will get back into the team and they will all get their share of games,” he said.

“You calculate in a squad the maximum the players can play is 70 per cent of the games, so that is a lot of room for the other players as well.

“I think we have the right number and when everybody is back, there is competition for places.”

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Nik Brumsack 20 Sep 2013