Shkodran Mustafi set for Dundalk start as defender bids for another fightback

Shkodran Mustafi is ready to complete another remarkable fightback after becoming Arsenal ’s comeback king,

Mustafi is set to start against Dundalk in the Europa League on Thursday night as only Arsenal could have nine centre-halves on the books but only have two fit enough to play.

But, incredibly, making dramatic returns has been the story of his rollercoaster Arsenal career having been frozen out by Unai Emery, fought his way back into the team under Mikel Arteta and then missed the FA Cup final through injury.

It would have been enough to break lesser players but, for all of his faults, Mustafi clearly has a strong mentality means he never gives up and insists he is now determined to fight for his place again and win a new contract.

Former Germany international Mustafi, 28, a member of the 2014 World Cup winning squad, said: “At the end of the day, that’s what we have to do.

“We play football, we know that you always going to have ups and you’re going to have downs but it’s about how strong mentally you are to not give up and always come back.

“It was difficult for me personally because it was the second FA Cup final that I missed but, for me, the main thing was that I could help the team to go to the final and then I enjoyed watching them win the final, I enjoyed watching them win the Community Shield as well.

“For me, I more enjoyed than feeling frustrated not to be part of it. We live in this dressing room and when you are injured but you see your team is winning that lifts you as well from the rehab.

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"So, for me, of course it was not nice to miss the final but at least I was happy for all the team, the fans and for everyone at this club and in the end we made it and lifted the trophy.”

Arsenal currently have David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari out injured, William Saliba and Sokratis are not registered for the Europa League squad and Konstantinos Mavropanos is out on loan at Stuttgart.

That leaves Arsenal woefully short but also means the competition has been fierce and yet Mustafi – who joined in 2016 for £35m – wants to stay and fight for his place and earn himself a new deal beyond his current contract which expires this summer.

Mustafi said: “It’s a good thing because in football you live from competition. I was never worried about competing because this is what we have to do every day.

“You have work for your place and when you have a place you have to work for the team to get results in every single game. I don’t think anyone is afraid of competing because that’s something we have to do as a sportsman.

“When I made a decision to sign for Arsenal it is because I respect this club. It is a huge club, that's why for me if I could stay at Arsenal, of course it would mean a lot to me.

“At the end of the day, it was important for me in the last three months to come back after the injury and to be ready to play and to help my team.”

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