When Emile Smith Rowe underwent groin surgery in September, the club said they were “hopeful” that he would return to full training in December.
Despite a minor setback in his rehabilitation, it sounds as though the midfielder remains on track to recover within that timeframe although he’s not expected to feature in a competitive match until the new year.
“Emile is close, he is starting to train again. He had a little setback but he is in a good place,” said Arteta in his first press conference following the conclusion of the World Cup.
Despite struggling for full fitness throughout 2022, the decision to send the player for surgery in the aftermath of the defeat to Manchester United wasn’t taken lightly. It drew a line through his chances of playing at the World Cup and ruled him out of at least 15 matches.
Still only 22, the club, perhaps wary of the psychological damage of spending so much time on the sidelines, formulated a recovery programme that has seen him spend time abroad and undertaking activities designed to put his struggles into perspective.
In between stints at London Colney, we know he’s worked with club staff in Abu Dhabi and joined his teammates in Dubai. He was also part of the Arsenal group that delivered presents to children in hospitals in the north London area.
“We’ve done a lot of things with Emile – sometimes he’s been very close, sometimes he’s been in different places to see different environments, but his attitude has been great,” said Arteta.
“This is part of any career, any development to have periods when you are out, when you have long-term injuries, and he needs to react to that.
“He’s got all our support; he’s a huge talent that we need for the second part of the season at his best, because his contribution is going to be key to the team.”
Pressed on the specifics of those various environments, the boss remained vague but it sounds as though he may have spent time with aspiring footballers and other youngsters.
“Different kinds of environments, different sports, and to places, to people that he could inspire, and can give him certain perspectives as well about his situation. I think he has taken a lot from it,” said the boss.