Mikel Arteta has admitted that he is fearful over the fitness of Bukayo Saka after the versatile winger was called up for England this week.
The 19-year-old was not even involved in the squad for Arsenal’s 1-0 Europa League round of 16 second leg defeat to Olympiacos on Thursday night due to a hamstring injury he had sustained in the North London Derby victory over Tottenham.
Speaking after the match the Gunners boss admitted that despite saying Saka had a chance of starting the tie against the Greek champions, he was never really in contention.
“We don’t know it depends how he feels in the next few days,” said the Spaniard when asked if the Hale End graduate had a chance of being available for the Three Lions next week.
“We spoke yesterday he wasn’t near ready to be involved for today. We made the decision.
“We will make the decision for Sunday against West Ham and then we will talk with the doctors and the national team to decide what we do.”
And now speaking ahead of the Premier League clash with the Hammers Arteta has admitted that he is fearful about the number of minutes Saka is playing this season.
“Yes,” he said when asked if he had concerns over the 19-year-old’s fitness. “But that’s why I think we need really good communication between ourselves the player and the national team.
“We know how important he is for now and in the summer for England. So let’s make the right call and let’s think not just about the short term, but the medium term as well.”
Saka has played more minutes than any outfield player this season apart from Granit Xhaka and was involved in all three of England’s games over the last international break.
Gareth Southgate’s squad are due to meet up for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland next week despite rising COVID-19 cases on the continent.
With this in mind Arteta went on to question the wisdom of even having an international break at all.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special newsletters with any big breaking news too.
And with the January transfer window now open there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
“Well obviously from a selfish point of view and with the lack of preparation that we’ve had this season with the amount of games that we’ve already played, from our side it doesn’t make a lot of sense to expose players again,” he said.
“But it’s a decision that we have nothing to do with. We’ve given our opinion as managers, and now there are other institutions that have to make a decision.
“It’s clear that the games are going to be played. And if some players cannot travel to certain countries then they won’t play.”