EMILE SMITH ROWE is convinced that he is finally over the four-year agony which has blighted his senior Arsenal career.

The 22-year-old England international made his long-awaited comeback in Monday’s 3-0 FA Cup win at Oxford.

Emile Smith Rowe made his long-awaited return from injury at Oxford

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Emile Smith Rowe made his long-awaited return from injury at OxfordCredit: Getty

And he revealed it was virtually the first time that he was able to play free of the pain in his groin which has plagued him since he first broke into the senior team and left him feeling discomfort every time he kicked the ball.

After managing just four brief substitute appearances during the first two months of the campaign, the decision was taken by the Arsenal medical team for Smith Rowe to undergo surgery in September to sort out the problem once and for all.

Now he says: “People don’t realise I’ve had this injury since I was 18 and it’s been affecting me all that time.

“It’s been the exact same pain from back when I was loaned to Leipzig and it’s been hard to deal with it over all the years. So I’m really glad that it’s finally over.

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“The surgery has been successful and I’m feeling really good at last.

“I have come out the other side, I’m fully fit and now I want to kick on.

“It’s been the longest lay-off of my career and it’s been tough for me watching the boys without being able to contribute.

“But I can’t really complain because the team is top of the League and playing really well.”

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Smith-Rowe’s surgery put pay to any hopes he had of making England’s World Cup squad after breaking into the senior international team in 2021.

He says: “Obviously you always want to play for my country, but I had to do what was right for my body and I am still young enough so hopefully there will be more opportunities with the national team.

“It helped that my family, the manager and the whole team were around me and supporting me through the injury.

“I was pretty much with the squad straight after the surgery, attending all the team meetings, keeping up with the knowledge and learning every day what the manager was trying to apply in training.”

Smith Rowe’s return to full fitness could not have come at a better time for boss Arteta as he looks to strengthen his table-topping squad.

And he cannot wait to play some part in Sunday’s North London derby after last season’s 3-0 defeat by Spurs wrecked Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four.

This time the Gunners make the short journey along the Seven Sisters Road with an 11-point lead over the noisy neighbours and Smith Rowe says: “This game couldn’t have come at a better time for us.

“We’re feeling really good at the moment and all the boys are itching to get out there.

“Maybe the manager will talk about last season’s game in the build-up to Sunday but most of us already know how painful that defeat was and we’ll use that energy to help us on Sunday.”

The Arsenal academy graduate would love another goal against Tottenham

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The Arsenal academy graduate would love another goal against TottenhamCredit: Getty



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