Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has welcomed the return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The England international has been sidelined for the past five months with a knee injury, but played 45 minutes for the under-21s on Thursday night.

"We need every single player and in particular Alex," Mertesacker told Arsenal Player. "It was a real shock when he was out after Aston Villa.

"Following that game we did really well as a team but we need him because he can always make the difference with his speed, with his passing and obviously with his finishing. He can [make] absolutely a great impact for any team in the world so we are really pleased that he's back.

"But I think he needs some time to get through training and to have some good games, but I'm really pleased for him that he got 45 minutes against Fulham. That is a step back to absolutely full fitness."