Jenkinson return gives Arsenal boost
Arsenal's defensive ranks are set to get a boost with the return of Carl Jenkinson, after the full-back last played for the Gunners on November 5 and suffered a stress fracture in his back.
Jenkinson, 20, has made 11 appearances since signing from Charlton last summer and made a successful 45-minute comeback in Arsenal's reserve win over Norwich. Reserve team coach Neil Banfield said Jenkinson's return was ''nice to see''.
"It is fantastic to be back," Jenkinson told Arsenal Player. "It has been really hard coming in every day and doing my rehab stuff, but I am delighted to be back now.
"The injury felt fine; I had no problems with it at all, which is great news because you never know how you are going to react in a game. It is a family club at Arsenal, so there are always people who will put an arm around you and try to help you out.
"The medical team have been fantastic, keeping me motivated and making sure I am doing the right things. I have got a lot to thank them for in terms of getting me back to where I am now, so I am very grateful to them."
Jenkinson also admitted his injury came at the worst possible time.
"I felt like I was starting to come into my own [when it happened] - that was the most frustrating thing," he said. "In the last few games I played I was starting to show people what I could do and to then get a setback was hard to take.
"Three and a half months is a long time, so it has been hard work but I think you just have to focus on the future and be positive, so that is what I am going to do."
While the versatile defender is not assured of a place in Arsene Wenger's starting XI, his availability would be welcomed given that the under-fire Gunners boss has a number of injury concerns at the back.
Per Mertesacker is out with a long-term ankle injury, Laurent Koscielny missed last weekend's defeat at Sunderland, while Sebastien Squillaci and Francis Coquelin both hobbled off at the Stadium of Light and will miss Sunday's game against Tottenham. Indeed, the club only has two other fit centre-halves - Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou.
Wenger, who is under pressure after seeing his team crash out of the FA Cup and almost certainly exit the Champions League after a 4-0 first leg hammering at AC Milan, is hoping to have striker Marouane Chamakh available after he returned from the African Nations Cup this week.
The striker suffered a toe injury while at the tournament but is expected to be fit after playing a part for the reserves.
''Marouane had a bad toe coming into this one. To be fair to him he wanted to give it a go but he could only last for half an hour and he had to come off,'' Banfield told Arsenal's website. ''Marouane will be all right, it is just a bad toe I think at the moment.''