Cazorla returns to Arsenal training after 18 months out

Santi Cazorla took a significant step towards a first-team return after training on Saturday.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla   -  Getty Images

Santi Cazorla took part in first-team training at Arsenal on Saturday for the first time since a horrific injury ordeal that began in October 2016.

The 33-yeard-old has undergone numerous surgeries on his right Achilles and lost eight centimetres from his tendon, while he also contracted an infection that saw him at risk of having the foot amputated.

The latest injury setback occurred in January, denting his hopes of returning to action this season, but the Spain international took part in a workout session before Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid at the Emirates last week.

Cazorla has now stepped up his recovery, as he chases a potential appearance in Arsenal's last three matches under Arsene Wenger, and the Gunners confirmed his return with a post on social media.

The former Villarreal and Malaga's man's future is still up in the air with his contract due to expire at the end of the season and the Gunners yet to offer fresh terms.

"The objective is to play some part with the team before the season ends, but we have to take things carefully," Cazorla told AS.

"After being out for so long it will take a while to get back into form, it's a real struggle, but when you have been out like I have, you also notice pains elsewhere - apart from what I've had with my tendon.

"But all of that must mean that I am doing things right, and I hope to be back as soon as possible."