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Mikel Arteta provides Arsenal injury update ahead of Sporting clash

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remains tight-lipped on the fitness of four players ahead of Thursday’s Europa League last-16 first leg against Sporting Lisbon.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has remained coy about the availability of Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard, Eddie Nketiah and Kieran Tierney for Thursday’s Europa League last-16 first leg against Sporting Lisbon.

Jesus was the only member of the quartet to have trained with the team on Wednesday prior to the Gunners’ flight, although he is still being integrated slowly following knee surgery.

Trossard and Nketiah are both struggling with groin and ankle problems respectively, while Tierney is reported to have been suffering from an illness alongside Fabio Vieira.

While confirming that Vieira was fine for the return to his homeland, Arteta refused to give much away regarding the fitness of the other three players in his pre-game press conference.

“News on the squad will be tomorrow. We have brought a few players and you will see tomorrow who is available,” football.london quotes Arteta as saying.

© Reuters

“Let’s see how they evolve. Obviously we’ve had a few issues in the last few days and I am trying to accommodate everybody and get everyone in the best possible condition for tomorrow.”

However, the Spaniard affirmed that he was not prepared to rush Jesus back into action, and the striker may only continue to build up his fitness in training while in Portugal.

“We will try not to rush him back, we will try to make a fair assessment between what he needs and when is comfortable and as well giving the team a boost that it’s going to need in the next few weeks for sure,” Arteta added.

“Everything is going well, he needs time as well to get himself that confidence and that physical state that is necessary to compete with a free mind and once he’s free to do that, we will throw him in.”

Should Tierney overcome his viral affliction to feature on Thursday night, the left-back could continue his 100% run in the first team in the 2022-23 Europa League, having started all six of the Gunners’ games in the group stage.

Kieran Tierney in action for Arsenal on November 3, 2022© Reuters

The Scotland international has played second fiddle to Oleksandr Zinchenko in the Premier League this season, though, and he is believed to be open to a summer exit if his playing situation does not improve.

Newcastle United in particular are thought to be interested in a deal for Tierney, whom Arteta has insisted that he has a “very good” relationship with, but he warned the 25-year-old that he must “challenge” the unideal situation he finds himself in.

“Very good because we talked and we discussed the situation and we had a very similar opinion about that,” Arteta said when questioned on Tierney’s feelings about his new peripheral role.

“He knows his role – under me he’s played a lot, more than any other player probably compared to the previous players at the club in the last three years and he understands the situation and he needs to challenge the situation.”

Tierney is at risk of missing the second leg next week if he is booked on Thursday night, while Sporting have a suspension of their own to take into account in the form of key midfielder Manuel Ugarte.

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