Shkodran Mustafi and Cedric Soares return to training ahead of Arsenal vs West Ham

Shkodran Mustafi suffered a muscle injury against Olympiacos 10 days ago
Shkodran Mustafi suffered a muscle injury against Olympiacos 10 days ago (Picture: Arsenal YouTube)

Shkodran Mustafi is back in contention to feature for Arsenal against West Ham after he took part in first team training on Thursday.

The much-maligned former Valencia centre-half has been one of the main beneficiaries of Mikel Arteta’s appointment as Unai Emery’s permanent successor.

Mustafi had been told he was almost certain to have no future at the club by Emery, but Arteta has placed his faith in the 27-year-old and he has been rewarded with a series of commanding performances at the heart of a notoriously brittle Arsenal defence.

The Germany international suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury during Arsenal’s damaging Europa League defeat against Olympiacos last week and in the immediate aftermath of the loss, Arteta admitted he was unsure as to the extent of the injury.

Arsenal released footage of yesterday’s training session on their official YouTube account and Mustafi showed no ill-effects of the injury which forced him off in the 103rd minute against the Greek side.

Cedric Soares featured in Arsenal's training session ahead of Saturday's game against West Ham
Cedric Soares featured in Arsenal’s training session ahead of Saturday’s game against West Ham (Picture: Arsenal YouTube)

January recruit Pablo Mari impressed on his competitive debut against Portsmouth in the FA Cup on Monday and Arteta now has five fit central defenders to choose from with Rob Holding also back in contention.

On the possibility of Mari featuring against the Hammers, Arteta said yesterday: ‘Well he has recovered really well from the game. He had 45 minutes with the Under-23s four days before that game.

‘He played 90 minutes, he said he’s physically good, he trained well and I think he’s ready to play if we need him to on Saturday.’

Fellow winter window recruit Cedric Soares, meanwhile, stepped up his recovery from the knee injury which has prevented him from featuring at all for his new club following his arrival on loan from Southampton nearly six weeks ago.

The Portugal international was seen wearing heavy strapping on his left leg during the session but Arteta will hope he is back in contention soon, having opted to deploy Sokratis Papastathopoulos as a makeshift right-back to cover for Hector Bellerin, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles remains out of favour.

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