Koscielny closing in on Arsenal return

Unai Emery hopes to have the Frenchman available for selection following the upcoming international break

Laurent Koscielny is close to handing Arsenal a defensive boost after missing the first three months of the 2018-19 campaign.

The former France international has been sidelined with an Achilles rupture that required surgery since May, the central defender missing his country's World Cup triumph at Russia 2018 as a result.

Unai Emery has slowly reintegrated the 33-year-old, who last featured for the Gunners in a Europa League clash with Atletico Madrid on May 3, into training and the Spaniard says Koscielny is almost ready to be considered for selection.

"He feels better in each training [session]," Emery told a media conference ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with Sporting CP.

"He is closer to being with us for competitive games.

"We are happy with him, he is with us every day and we are going to think after the international break how we continue working and playing games."

Emery said in October that he would not rush the defender back into action, adding that the club will be "calm" with the Frencman as he returns to full fitness. 

"We need [to wait] more than a month," Emery said at the time.

"He needs to feel [well] first, if he is doing some things, then he is doing well.

“Then when he can play and available for games in the training, [then] we can think he is okay to play.

Koscielny's improvement does not help Emery for the upcoming European clash, though, with fellow defenders Konstantinos Mavropanos, Nacho Monreal and Sokratis Papastathopoulos also unlikely to feature on Thursday.

Arsenal lead Group E after three wins out of three, including a 1-0 win over Sporting last time out.