LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Unai Emery said he had not closed the door on Mesut Ozil and looked forward on Thursday to the playmaker returning to full fitness.
The German has featured only twice for the Gunners in all competitions this season and, while sickness has contributed to him being sidelined, he has appeared also to have fallen out of favour.
Emery told reporters ahead of Monday’s Premier League game at Sheffield United that the 31-year-old had skills that third-placed Arsenal needed.
“This year started difficult for him. He worked well in pre-season and was playing matches, but the problem that happened with Sead stopped that,” said the manager, referring to an attempted car-jacking in July with defender Sead Kolasinac.
“After that problem he was sick for a week and then he lost out on a lot of training to continue working on keeping his fitness,” Emery said.
“But really the last two to three weeks he has improved with us in training. I didn’t close to him the possibility to play... My idea is to use all the players and he is one who can help us.
“He also has very big skills and quality we will need in the next matches.”
Ozil told The Athletic that watching from home had made him feel “helpless” but he would be seeing out his contract at the Emirates.
“When I signed the new deal, I thought about it very carefully and said it was one of the most important decisions of my footballing career,” he said.
“I didn’t want to stay for just one or two more years, I wanted to commit my future to Arsenal and the club wanted me to do the same. You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away and I’m not going to.
“I’m here until at least 2021.”
Striker Alexandre Lacazette could be fit in time for Monday’s match after returning to full training following an ankle injury.
Lacazette has not played since the 2-2 home draw in the North London derby with Tottenham Hotspur on Sept 1.
“I do not know if he will be ready to play 90 minutes or the bench, but we are going to decide in the next days,” said Emery.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson