By Sami Mokbel
Arsenal are confident Per Mertesacker will recover from a virus in time for their Champions League opener against Marseille on Wednesday.
The Germany international missed Saturday's victory over Sunderland through illness and is a doubt for the trip to France.
But the giant central defender is expected to fly with his team-mates to the French Riviera as they get their Champions League group - which also includes Borussia Dortmund and Napoli - underway.
Set to return: Arsenal hope Per Mertesacker will be fit to face Marseille on Wednesday
The news comes as a major boost to manager Arsene Wenger as he prepares his side for another crack at European glory.
Right-back Bacary Sagna was used as a makeshift central-defender at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, but Mertesacker's return will allow the France international to move to his more familiar position.
Wenger is also confident Olivier Giroud, who sustained an ankle injury against the Black Cats, will be fit to face Marseille.
Scoring for fun: Olivier Giroud has been in the goals so far this season
However, Arsenal are still without a string of first-team regulars including Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski and Abou Diaby.
Meanwhile, Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda has ordered his side to keep close tabs on Arsenal's club-record signing Mesut Ozil.
Following his impressive Barclays Premier League bow on Saturday, the Germany playmaker will make his Champions League debut for Arsenal in Marseille.
Danger man: Mesut Ozil provides the attacking threat for Arsenal
'Ozil has increased Arsenal's level in attack,' said the France international.
'His arrival has taken Arsenal to another level and he is perfect for the style of football and play that Wenger likes. I never expected Real Madrid to allow him to leave.
'Also, Giroud is in a sensational moment of form. We have to stop them from scoring and creating danger but that will not be easy. They look a very strong team.
'This Champions League Group is terrific. For any club to progress, every game must be like a final and you have to win your home games.
'Unless you do that, you have no chance.'