Mikel Arteta says he’s pleased Calum Chambers is close to a return and praised the defender for his attitude throughout a long and gruelling rehabilitation process.
The 25-year-old ruptured the ACL in his left knee in last December’s defeat to Chelsea and was making good headway with his recovery when Covid-19 restrictions added a layer of complexity to his day-to-day contact with the medical team.
Unable to use the facilities at London Colney during lockdown, he had to rely on daily Zoom calls with the club’s specialists who talked him through rehab sessions he could conduct on gym equipment sent to his home.
More recently, Calum has been back on the pitch with the under-23s and he’s now expected to challenge for playing time in the coming weeks.
“He’s evolving really well,” reported Arteta when asked for an update in his pre-Rapid Vienna press conference.
“He’s played some minutes with the under-23s in recent weeks. It’s been a long injury and you know that injuries like that take a long time to get your body, your biomechanics completely natural to compete. But I will say that now he’s very close to returning to play.”
Having been a former teammate of Chambers towards the end of his playing career at Arsenal, Arteta was well-acquainted with the former Southampton star when he rejoined the club as head coach last year. Even though his injury came just days after his appointment, the boss was impressed by the progress he’d seen in the defender’s game.
“He got injured against Chelsea if I remember correctly and he was starting the game.
“He was having a really good time. I think his performances were much more stable, he was growing in confidence, he matured a lot from his spells on loan at different clubs as well.
“Then he’s also a fantastic character. He went through the injury in an incredible way, everyone that’s involved with him during the rehab, during training, says incredible things about him.
“He’s such a nice guy, a great character to have around, and is a player we can utilise in different positions which is really helpful as well for any squad. We want to have him back and I think he’s very close.”
Given the number of centre-backs at our disposal, you wouldn’t be surprised if Chambers was sent out on loan in January to get game time and to build confidence. We know from experience that players rarely enjoy a smooth return after such a serious injury so he may yet have a few bumps in the road ahead. All the same, it’s great to see him back.