Bellerin only a 'few weeks away' from returning to Arsenal training after recovering from ACL injury

The 24-year-old missed the second half of the 2018-19 campaign, but could be back in action sooner than originally expected

Hector Bellerin has delivered a positive update on his recovery from a serious injury suffered at the start of the year, insisting he will return to full training with Arsenal in the next two months.

The Spaniard was ruled out of action for nine months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during a Premier League clash with Chelsea on January 19.

Bellerin underwent successful surgery later that month and has since undertaken an extensive rehabilitation programme, with a view to contributing to Arsenal's latest campaign as quickly as possible.

The Gunners kick off their new season with a trip to St James' Park to face Newcastle on Sunday, before hosting Burnley six days later.

Bellerin will not be available for selection for either fixture, but he is now in line for a comeback ahead of schedule.

The full-back has told BBC Radio Five Live Sport's Arsenal podcast that he is only "a few weeks away' from joining up with the rest of the Arsenal squad in senior training.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 21, has been filling in for Unai Emery's side in the absence of Bellerin, with a lack of extra options available on the right-hand side of the defence.

The Gunners are, however, reportedly on the verge of bringing in their first new defensive recruit of the summer transfer window, with Celtic's Kieran Tierney in line for a deadline day switch to Emirates Stadium.

Emery did wrap up the signing of French defender William Saliba at the end of July, but he has been sent back out on loan to Saint-Ettiene until the end of the 2019-20 season.

Arsenal were rumoured to be operating on a limited budget of £40 million ($49m) when the market opened, having failed to qualify for the Champions League.

However, Lille winger Nicolas Pepe arrived at the Emirates last week for a club-record fee of £72 million ($88m), joining Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos and Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli at the Emirates to become the club's third summer arrival.

The Gunners have until 5 pm on Thursday to complete deals for any extra reinforcements, with Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho also emerging as a possible target.

There has been some suggestion that Barca will let the Brazilian leave on loan, with Tottenham and Manchester United also thought to be interested in his services.