Sagna closing on Arsenal return

Bacary Sagna
Bacary Sagna has been out since May. Photo: PA

Bacary Sagna will not be rushed back into action for Arsenal, but is determined to return stronger from his long injury lay-off.

The France international suffered a fractured leg against Norwich in May, the second such injury in the space of a year and one which ruled him out of Euro 2012.

However, the 29-year-old right-back played in the under-21s against Reading earlier this week, as did England midfielder Jack Wilshere.

After coming through an hour, Sagna is ready to step-up his rehabilitation.

Sagna told Arsenal Player: "When you have such a big injury once, you take it, but twice is hard. In my mind I was a bit sad, but the next day I was ready for the challenge, which was to come back stronger and I am in a good way today.

"I spent some time in the rehab centre, then I came back and worked really hard with the fitness coach and the physios to be ready to play - and finally I have.

"I don't have any target - my only aim is to be ready and bring what I can to my team, to give 100%, like always."

Most of Arsene Wenger's first-team squad will be away on international duty this week, although defender Kieran Gibbs pulled out of the England squad after suffering a minor thigh problem in the win at West Ham.

Right-back Carl Jenkinson has proved an able deputy in Sagna's absence, so much so he was close to a call-up by England manager Roy Hodgson for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Sagna has been impressed by the rapid development of the 20-year-old, signed from Charlton in June 2011.

"He has been really good, and has learned a lot," Sagna said.

"He is a bit more confident with the ball, and is very solid as a defender.

"He brings a lot to the team, and I am very happy for him because he is a hard worker, a very good guy and is going to be one of the best."

Arsenal recovered from the disappointment of a home defeat by Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea to go into the international break on the back of a battling 3-1 win at West Ham which leaves them in touch with the chasing pack.

Sagna, who has yet to agree a contract extension, feels the Gunners can mount a sustained challenge.

He said: "We have been solid. I think we can win the league - we have to take it step by step, but we have the quality necessary to play until the end of the season and win."