Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has talked-up the return of creative midfielder Mesut Ozil ahead of tomorrow's Premier League clash against Stoke City.
The German international has been out of action for three months this season, winning the 2014 World Cup with his country before suffering a knee injury in October after just a handful of matches at the start of the campaign.
His performances hadn't set the Gunners alight before his last appearance, against Chelsea in a 2-0 defeat, but Wenger believes Ozil is hungry to impress and ready to return against the Potters.
That said, the Arsenal boss admits that Ozil won't just walk back into the starting line-up, with Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla impressing in recent weeks at the Emirates Stadium.
"I think it has been a frustrating start [to the season] for him because he hasn't contributed yet. He did not have a convincing start obviously, he only played six games and scored one goal against Aston Villa," Wenger told the press.
"Mesut has the opportunity to come back and to contribute to the team, when you're a football player you want to play games. Today he looks hungry and is working extremely hard, pushing himself to the limit of what you can absorb physically to come back.
"It is not easy for him. Santi [Cazorla] is playing very well. It is a fight to get back to his best level.''
Wenger went on to describe Ozil as an 'exceptional footballer', and is happy to welcome back a number of players from injury as the Gunners prepare to challenge for a place in the Premier League top four once again.
Champions League charge
Arsenal currently sit sixth in the table, three points behind Southampton with Tottenham Hotspur sandwiched in between them, and they will need to improve in the second half of the season to make it back to the Champions League.
"He [Ozil] is an exceptional football player. He always gives you continuity in your game. He's a very creative player and ideally you want all your best players available," added Wenger.
"The advantage of these [injured] players - for example [Olivier] Giroud, [Laurent] Koscielny, [Mathieu] Debuchy, Ozil - at the moment where most of the players in the league have played 26 or 27 games in their legs, they have four or five.
"If we can get them ready and fresh and competitive, it can give us a new impulse.''
Wenger will have to decide if Ozil starts against the Potters on Sunday, whilst Aaron Ramsey is also in contention after returning from injury. Mathieu Flamini is also in contention for a defensive-midfield role.