Emile Smith Rowe set to make eagerly awaited Arsenal return at Oxford after six months out with groin injury | The Sun

EMILE SMITH ROWE is in line to make his long-awaited Arsenal return in next Monday’s FA Cup third round tie at Oxford.

The 22-year-old England international has endured a frustrating six months watching from the sidelines as his Arsenal team-mates have roared to the top of the Premier League.

But now Smith Rowe believes his injury worries are behind him after returning to full training before Christmas.

And he is hoping to be involved in some capacity next week when manager Mikel Arteta makes wholesale changes to his starting line-up for the trip to League One Oxford.

Smith Rowe has not started a game for the Gunners since the 2-0 defeat at Newcastle last May.

And he has managed just four brief substitute appearances totalling 46 minutes this season.

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He underwent surgery in September to correct a persistent groin problem which had prevented him from participating fully in pre-season training.

That operation ended any outside hopes of breaking into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad after winning three senior England caps last season.

But now he is ready to get his career back on track.

And his availability could not come at a better time for Arteta.

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The Arsenal boss is keen to reduce the workload on his young team.

But he has been forced to rely on a core of just 13 players in the League so far this season.

However, the return of the versatile Smith Rowe gives Arteta the opportunity to rest playmaker Martin Odegaard, or wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

A number of other senior players are expected to be given the night off at the Kassam Stadium next Monday.

And the likes of Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Mohamed Elneny, Sambi Lokonga, Matt Turner and Marquinhos are all lined up to step in.

But Arsenal are determined not to rush Smith Rowe’s comeback.

And it has not yet been decided whether he will start the FA Cup tie or come on from the bench as the medical team continue to monitor his progress.

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