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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised Mathieu Debuchy for his professionalism and revealed that the defender is now back in contention for a first-team place.
The 32-year-old has endured a difficult spell at the Emirates Stadium since joining from Newcastle United in 2014 after struggling for both form and fitness.
Debuchy put his latest injury troubles to one side last week to play 120 minutes of the 2-1 win over Norwich City in the EFL Cup, however – just his second appearance in the last 11 months.
After winning over his manager, the 27-cap France international will now be given further chances to stake a claim for a regular spot in the backline, even if that means shifting into a more central position than he is accustomed to.
“We are all very pleased for him here because he has gone through some very difficult moments with setbacks,” Wenger told reporters. “The fact that he got through 120 minutes the other night is a huge boost for him. He needs to recover now but from now on, he’ll be a candidate to fight for the team places again.
“Mathieu is absolutely strong and determined as well. He’s a quiet character but a very strong one. I must say he’s 100% a professional player. Everybody in the medical department just says he’s exceptional.
“Maybe his future is as a centre-back. He has the attributes because, despite his size, he’s very good in the air. You think he couldn’t play centre-back because he’s not tall, but if you look at the number of balls he wins in the air, it’s impressive.”
Debuchy’s only other first-team appearance this calendar year came against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League a fortnight ago.