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Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has revealed he wants to play for the Gunners’ first team before the season finishes.
The Spaniard has been out of action since September 2016 with an Achilles injury and he’s had ten operations during a frustrating stint on the sidelines.
Arsenal feared Cazorla would have to retire during one stage of his rehabilitation after the Spaniard’s ankle became infected after one procedure but he’s battled on and trained on the Emirates pitch before last week’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Europa League.
Cazorla is out of contract at the end of the season and many supporters feared they’d never see him in an Arsenal shirt again but the midfielder says he’s targeting a return by the end of the campaign.
‘I’ve still got some way to go,’ Cazorla told AS. ‘Because after being sidelined for 18 months, everything has to be done in its own time. But the sensations I have keep getting better and I’m feeling optimist about the future.
‘The objective is to play some part with the team before the season ends, but we have to take things carefully.
‘After being out for so long it will take a while to get back into form, it’s a real struggle, but when you have been out like I have, you also notice pains elsewhere – apart from what I’ve had with my tendon.’
Arsenal take on Atletico in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.
The competition is Arsene Wenger’s last chance to win a trophy at the club before he steps down at the Emirates but the La Liga giants are favourites to progress after earning a 1-1 draw in London despite having 10 men for 83 minutes.