The winger began training earlier this month but Saturday’s trip to the Stadium of Light will come to soon after initial hopes of a place in the first-team squad
Arsene Wenger has revealed Theo Walcott is not ready to make his Arsenal return against Sunderland.
The England international as been out of action since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a 2-0 FA Cup win over north London rivals Tottenham back in January.
Walcott returned training earlier this month and was thought to be in contention for this Saturday’s visit to the Stadium of Light, but Wenger is more confident of the forward facing Burnley next week.
“He has to get used to contact again,” Wenger told reporters. “He has been out nine months, he needs to get used to being kicked again.
“He needs to feel completely confident but he is not far. Fitness-wise he is there. Contact front he needs a bit more time.”
There is less positive news on defender Laurent Koscielny, though, with the France defender set to remain on the sidelines until after next month’s international break due to an Achilles problem.
“I cannot give you any date,” Wenger added. “I hope he [Koscielny] will be available after the next international break.”