Arsenal manager Unai Emery says Hector Bellerin won’t be ready for the trip to Manchester United on Monday, despite his cameo appearance against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.
The Spaniard was a 77th-minute substitute in the Gunners’ 5-0 Carabao Cup win at the Emirates, coming on to replace summer arrival Kieran Tierney to a fantastic ovation from the home support having not featured since January thanks to an ACL injury.
How close to fitness is Bellerin? Five things to know…
- Bellerin has been out since suffering an ACL injury in January.
- He finally made his return to action as a late substitute against Forest.
- The Spaniard provided an assist within moments of entering the match.
- But Emery says he’s not quite ready to feature against Man Utd on Monday.
- Arsenal also had fellow defenders Tierney and Rob Holding back in action on Tuesday.
Bellerin was quick to make his presence felt, too, grabbing an assist for Joe Willock’s goal within moments of entering the pitch.
Calum Chambers recorded a hat-trick of assists on Tuesday and, alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emery’s options at right-back are now strong, although he believes Bellerin needs more time with the U23 squad before taking further part in first-team activities.
Asked if Bellerin could feature at Old Trafford on Monday, Emery replied: “I think no. Maybe in his mind yes, but we need to listen to the doctor and the doctor wants to do it progressively.
“Really tonight is the first day and the first minutes, and we are going to maybe share some minutes with the under-23s.
“It depends how he’s feeling, but in his mind, he’s feeling very well and I think the first minutes tonight were amazing for him. We are going to use him with Ainsley and Calum Chambers to help us in this position. The most important things about Hector are his attitude and experience. He’s wishing to help us.
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“When he was injured he was still a big mentality in the dressing room helping us.”
Rob Holding also made his long-awaited return to action on Tuesday and getting a host of defenders back at once could help Emery steer what has so far been an inconsistent season back on track.
The Gunners currently sit joint-third in the Premier League table but have won only three of their six games so far.