What’s the story?
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has admitted that Hector Bellerin is unlikely to be handed his first start of the season against Manchester United despite making an appearance in Tuesday night’s League Cup clash against Nottingham Forest.
In case you didn’t know…
Bellerin has been on the sidelines since he picked up a knee injury back in January. The right-back has since undergone ACL surgery and came off the bench to play 13 minutes as the Gunners established a thumping 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the League Cup last night.
The Spain international replaced Kieran Tierney and made an immediate impact, bagging an assist for Joe Willock’s goal.
The 24-year-old defender was the first-choice right-back under Emery and his absence has left Arsenal with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who currently plays out of position to accommodate the vacant position.
The heart of the matter
Emery has heaped praise on Bellerin’s attitude on and off the pitch and has explained that the club will not rush him into the squad.
The Spanish manager said in his post-match press conference,
“I think Hector’s attitude is a very big attitude to help us. When he was injured he was still a big mentality in the dressing room helping us.
“He wanted to play 90 and yesterday he told me he’s ready and wanted to play, but we decided to give him less minutes than 90. He played with the under-23s on Friday and also they are the first matches for him. We need to do it progressively and the doctor said to us that we are going to do it like that.”
When asked if Bellerin will start against the Red Devils, the former Sevilla boss said,
“I think no [he can’t play 90 minutes against Manchester United next]. 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 on 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.”
Arsenal are scheduled to face Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Monday night.