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Mikel Arteta makes Arsenal return as under-21s beat Blackburn

Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta made his return from injury by playing the first half for the under-21 side in a 3-2 win over Blackburn on Tuesday.

Arteta has not featured for the first team since limping off with a calf problem in the 2-1 loss to West Bromwich Albion in November, but he is hoping to be ready for action in Arsenal's FA Cup game against Sunderland on Saturday.

Arteta started for the U21s at Arsenal's training ground in London Colney and forced goalkeeper Ryan Crump into a good save in the 24th minute after combining with Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who also made a case for playing time against Sunderland by scoring two goals.

With Alexis Sanchez also nearing an injury comeback, Arteta's return to the squad should be another welcome boost for manager Arsene Wenger, who has lamented the fact that the injury problems in midfield mean he may not be able to rotate his squad as much as he would like against Sunderland.

Should Arteta be deemed fit enough to start, Wenger could potentially afford to rest Aaron Ramsey ahead of a crucial Premier League game against Liverpool on Wednesday next week.

Arsenal are waiting for Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny to be granted a work permit before completing a £7 million transfer, with the Swiss club saying on Tuesday that a deal could happen "in the coming days."

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.

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