Mikel Arteta reveals crushing Eddie Nketiah blow as he calls for fan patience in long injury recovery
MIKEL ARTETA revealed Eddie Nketiah is still a few weeks away from fitness ahead of their clash with Sporting Lisbon.
The Gunners welcome Sporting to The Emirates on Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie.
GettyEddie Nketiah has been out of action since the Everton win[/caption]
APGabriel Jesus made his return from a lengthy injury absence against Fulham on Sunday[/caption]
And Arteta could be forced to play with a false nine once again since Nketiah is out of action.
The striker injured his ankle earlier this month and has been absent since starring in the 4-0 win over Everton.
He has been in a protective boot since then and is not expected to be back for a few more weeks, according to Arteta.
The Spaniard said in his pre-match interview: “He’s getting better. He’s still in the boot. He’s still a few weeks away and we need to be patient.
“It was a nasty injury and he has a big challenge ahead of him. Thank God it could have been worse. So he’s not in a bad place.”
One positive for Arsenal is Gabriel Jesus is back available for selection after sustaining a knee injury at the World Cup.
The Brazilian featured from the bench in the 3-0 win over Fulham though it is unlikely he will be risked from the start against Sporting.
Instead Arteta could utilise Gabriel Martinelli up-front once again, joined by Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka on either flank – which worked perfectly at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
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Arteta said of Jesus’ return: “It was great to see him back you can feel the happiness of everyone, the players and the staff around him. We missed him and now he’s back.
“We have to manage his minutes, his involvement in the squad and the team. He’s feeling good and every day he’s training he says his sensations are better and better, so that’s really positive.”