Cape Town - Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has returned to fitness after a five-month injury layoff, handing manager Arsene Wenger a late-season boost before Sunday's away clash with Manchester City.
The 31-year-old Spain international played an hour for the club's under-21s against Blackburn Rovers this week, and could return to first-team action for the first time since injuring his knee in December.
Arsenal are third in the Premier League, three points above City, and will guarantee themselves an 18th successive Champions League campaign if they win.
"I would like to help the first team at the weekend against Manchester City," Cazorla told the club's website. "(Wenger) has the decision, but I will try to play."
Cazorla's absence has given midfielder Alex Iwobi an extended run in the first team, and the youngster has caught the eye with a series of sparkling displays.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has made only one appearance this season after fracturing his left tibia, praised Wenger for the way he had nurtured Iwobi, who turned 20 two days ago.
"I think the boss has done really well with him because he brought him in, brought him out and then put him into the team," Wilshere said, adding that Iwobi "has repaid him well".