Friday, 10 February 2017

Arsenal still not sure if Hector Bellerin will play on Saturday

Arsenal will have to wait until hours before their game against Hull on Saturday before knowing whether Hector Bellerin will be able to feature.

The Spanish full-back was substituted early in the first half of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Chelsea after taking an elbow to the head from Marcos Alonso as the Blues wing-back scored the opener. 

Bellerin is still being assessed as part of the graduated return to play protocol for players who suffer concussion – manager Arsene Wenger confirmed after the defeat to Chelsea that the 21-year-old had been unaware of the score when he was taken off – and has yet to return to training.

Whilst Wenger’s options in midfield have been swelled by the return of Mohamed Elneny from the Africa Cup of Nations he will not be able to decide on Bellerin’s involvement until Friday at the earliest.

“From last Saturday we have Elneny back available in the squad,” Wenger said. “Apart from that, we have the question about Hector Bellerin.

“He’s going for tests and the process every day and we’ll only know tomorrow if he gets the green light from the medical people to practise or not. At the moment he has not practised.” 

With Arsenal taking on Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16 four days after Hull’s visit Wenger will be reluctant to gamble on the preparedness of Bellerin, who is crucial to his side in attack and defence.

Should the Spaniard miss out then centre-back Gabriel would once more be expected to step in.

Elneny resumed training at London Colney on Wednesday after recovering from a calf injury that ruled him out of the Afcon semi-final.

The 24-year-old suffered heartache in the final, scoring the opener to set Egypt on course for an eighth continental title only to see Cameroon snatch the trophy with an 89th minute winner.

Wenger is backing Elneny to overcome his disappointment and will need him to swiftly settle back into the rhythm of club football, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the only other option to partner Francis Coquelin in Arsenal’s midfield on Saturday.

“He trained yesterday with the team. He’s fully focused and as always, a fantastic player with a great mentality.

“He is disappointed that Egypt lost in the final but we had a quality session yesterday.”

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