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[monks data]
Premier League 2 - Div 1
Apr 22, 2024 at 7pm UK
Leigh Sports Village Stadium

Blackburn U21s
2 - 2
Arsenal U21s

Wood (38'), Ngangou (45+2')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Maduro (8'), Cozier-Duberry (35' pen.)
Heaven (55')

Jurrien Timber starts for Arsenal Under-21s after eight months out

Jurrien Timber starts for Arsenal Under-21s after eight months out
© Reuters
Jurrien Timber starts for Arsenal's Under-21s in their Premier League 2 clash with Blackburn Rovers after eight months out with an ACL injury.

Arsenal defender Jurrien Timber has taken a huge step forward in his recovery from an ACL injury, being named in the starting lineup for the Under-21s' clash with Blackburn Rovers.

The former Ajax man only lasted 50 minutes on his Premier League debut against Nottingham Forest in August, hobbling off with what was later confirmed to be a severe cruciate ligament injury.

Timber has spent the last eight months on the slow road to recovery, but he has come through his rehabilitation without any complications so far and has been training with the team for a while.

The 22-year-old was named in Arsenal's squad list for the Champions League knockout rounds, although he was not cleared for his senior return before the Gunners were eliminated at the hands of Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

However, Mikel Arteta confirmed earlier this month that Timber was on course to feature for the Under-21s this month, and he has been cleared to make the starting lineup for Monday's fixture with Blackburn.

The Netherlands international seemingly start at left-back - an area where Arsenal have been without a standout performer this season - in an XI also featuring Ethan Nwaneri, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Myles Lewis-Skelly and Reuell Walters.

Arteta pessimistic on Timber's Euro 2024 chances

It remains to be seen how many minutes Timber is given at Ewood Park, but his presence in the first XI suggests that a return to senior action is on the cards before the end of the season.

However, speaking to reporters ahead of Tuesday's Premier League clash with Chelsea at the Emirates - which Timber will not be involved in - Arteta admitted that the weekend's North London derby with Tottenham Hotspur might come too soon for him.

"That's a quick step. Let's see how he feels today. He's been training really good. He looks ready," Arteta said. "He needs that exposure and after that, we'll assess whether that game comes at the right time or too fast. We'll try to get him with us for the final games."

Despite the expectation that Timber will play for the first team before the season is over, the Gunners boss was pessimistic about the defender's chances of representing the Netherlands at Euro 2024, adding: "At the moment, it looks really far because he hasn't played any football.

"So let's see how he goes tonight. Let's see if he can contribute in an impactful way to our system. And then we'll see what happens in the summer."

Arsenal's Under-21s sit sixth in the 26-team Premier League 2 table with 32 points from 18 matches.

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Ethan Nwaneri in action for Arsenal in September 2022
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