By Will Butcher
Lucas Perez has handed Arsene Wenger a huge boost ahead of Arsenal’s quarter-final clash against Southampton.
The 28-year-old forward has returned to first-team training, after recovering from an ankle injury picked up against Reading in the last round of the EFL Cup.
Wenger revealed that Perez will be in the squad against the Saints on Wednesday night, but reported that Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy will miss out.
“Mathieu has a scan today [Tuesday] but we don’t have the results yet,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website.
“Lucas is in the squad and we will have a mixture of youth and experience, but still 90 per cent of the first-team squad.”
A summer signing from Spanish outfit Deportivo La Coruna, Perez has featured just six times for the Gunners following his £17.1million move.
After spending a month on the sidelines, Perez will make his comeback against Southampton as Wenger looks to rest striker Alexis Sanchez for Saturday’s London derby against West Ham.
Perez has scored two goals for the Gunners since his move and will be hoping to add to that tally after a prolific campaign last season that saw him score 18 times in 36 starts.
Debuchy, who featured for just 14 minutes after returning from a long injury layoff against Bournemouth, will miss the quarter final with a hamstring problem.
Debuchy’s compatriot Giroud has a slight groin problem but is expected to return to the squad for Saturday’s trip to the London Stadium.
With a place at Wembley up for grabs in the semi finals, Wenger is expected to field a strong side against Premier League counterparts Southampton.
In other Arsenal team news, this senior star has targeted this date to return to full fitness.