Unai Emery says Mesut Özil is improving in training every day, and he suggests the German will feature in the coming matches.
Özil has only started one Premier League game this season, along with one League Cup start against Nottingham Forest, with a variety of reasons given for his absences.
First, he was recovering from the aftermath of a robbery at his home. Then he was ill, then it was a tactical decision, then the other players deserved it more, then it was something to do with the midfielder’s GPS data in training.
Finally, it seems like maybe all of those things are behind us. Unai Emery suggested in his press conference that he hasn’t closed the door to Özil, and he’s been encouraged by the player’s recent response to the challenge of stepping up in training.
“The last two or three weeks he’s improved with us in training and I think it’s good,” Emery said.
“I didn’t close the possibility to play with him because if he is ready and giving us a good feeling every day in training, he can play.
“My idea is to use every player and he is one. He has very big skills and quality we will need in the next matches. I am happy how he is improving and training every day. I am feeling better with him every day.”
That all sounds a lot more positive than some of Emery’s past responses to the question when he’s tended to bat it away or give a vague answer that doesn’t really explain anything.
We’ll only know for sure if something has changed when we see him starting a match though.
It still doesn’t seem very likely we’ll see Özil away to Sheffield United on Monday, at least not from the start.
There are seven games in 19 days coming up though, so we shouldn’t have to wait long before he is involved.