Arsenal defender Isaac Hayden has expressed his delight at returning from a seven-month injury lay-off to make his first appearance of 2015, stating that his fitness problems are now behind him and he's focused on breaking into Arsene Wenger's senior team.
The 20-year-old started in the Gunners development squad's 4-0 victory over Wolves on Monday evening, in what was only his sixth appearance for the U21s this season after recovering from an ankle injury that has disrupted his campaign.
Hayden played 90 minutes of Arsenal's 2-1 defeat against Southampton in the Capital One Cup back in September and is keen to get himself back in contention for more regular inclusion at the Emirates Stadium.
The versatile star has seen fellow academy graduate Francis Coquelin make great strides in north London this season, and he'll be looking to follow in the footsteps of the defensive midfielder next term.
Hayden is also capable of playing in a more advanced midfield role, which could present him with a more realistic chance of pushing for first-team inclusion.
After signing a new contract only last year, he certainly hasn't given up hope of forging a successful career at Arsenal, providing he can maintain his fitness with a view to kicking on from pre-season onwards.
He captained the development squad on several occasions prior to suffering his ankle injury, and Gunners coaches have high hopes that Hayden has what it takes to make the step up to the Premier League.
Arsenal begin Petr Cech talks
Arsenal have opened talks with Chelsea over the possible purchase of Petr Cech this summer, despite the fact that Jose Mourinho remains keen not to sell to a Premier League title rival.
Rumours of the veteran goalkeeper's prospective switch to the Emirates Stadium are gathering pace as Gunners boss Arsene Wenger prepares to meet the Blues' £10 million valuation.
Iker Casillas to Arsenal?
Iker Casillas could still move to Arsenal this summer as he's not decided whether he's going to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.
The Spain international is weighing up his options ahead of the transfer window and is seriously considering the prospect of linking up with former Los Blancos team-mate Mesut Ozil at the Emirates.