Theo Walcott: Arsenal winger set for first game in nine months for Under-21s on Friday

The England winger has been missing with a cruciate knee ligament injury

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger has been handed a boost amid another Arsenal injury crisis with Theo Walcott set to play for the Under-21s on Friday.

The 25-year-old has not played a competitive game in more than nine months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in the 2-1 FA Cup victory over bitter rivals Tottenham.

Walcott is in line to start for Arsenal's youngsters against Blackburn Rovers on Friday, in what will be his first game since 4 January.

The England winger only started full training on Monday, though he had not even played a five-a-side game before that, and could be given up to an hour in Friday's game, according to reports.

Wenger will then have to decide whether to risk Walcott for the match against Hull City the next day - with attacking players Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo all missing, the French boss may not have a choice - though he could allow Walcott more time to return.

Arsenal travel to Belgium to play Anderlecht on Wednesday and then are at the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland next Saturday.

Serge Gnabry also made his return to training on Monday, while Olivier Giroud is said to be "ahead of schedule" in his recovery from a broken leg.