Arteta hopes for Smith Rowe return against Oxford

Emile Smith Rowe during a training session

Emile Smith Rowe could play some part against Oxford United on Monday after Mikel Arteta revealed the midfielder is close to a return.

The Hale End graduate has been out since September after undergoing groin surgery to fix a recurring problem, and has been back in training with our first-team squad in recent weeks.

And in his pre-match press conference ahead of the FA Cup trip to the Kassam Stadium, Arteta suggested that Emile was on the cusp of completing his rehabilitation and could be available for selection once again.

When asked about his potential return, the boss said: “Tomorrow if he trains well, he will hopefully be available to give us something in the game.

“We need him fit and at his best, and when we have that, we have an incredible player that we have missed a lot in the last few months. He can play as an attacking midfielder, as a winger and even as a nine; I think he’s played there before.”

It remains to be seen if Mikel will tinker with his starting XI or make wholesale changes for the game against the League One outfit, but regards of who plays, he will be taking the competition very seriously as he looks to extend our record of 14 triumphs.

“It is obviously a competition that is attached to the successful history of this club, so on Monday we’ll have a good start and a good test,” he added. “We have to take the competition and the opponent very seriously and play well, to a high level to win the match.

“It is a competition that we are really looking forward to playing in, and brings back huge memories to our football club and the team, because not many years ago we won it, but also last year how we went out of the competition. It’s a competition that we really want to play in and compete.”

Read or watch the whole of Mikel’s pre-match press conference

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