Unai Emery has played down the idea that Hector Bellerin will be ready to start for Arsenal when they face Manchester United on Monday, in comments reported by Football London.
Bellerin made his first appearance of the season in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie with Nottingham Forest. He came off the bench with 13 minutes remaining. And he quickly reminded the Gunners supporters of his quality with an assist for Joe Willock.
It has been an incredibly tough time for the Spaniard. He had spent nine months on the sidelines due to a knee injury. And the Arsenal players were clearly delighted for the full-back as they are seemed to head towards him after Willock found the back of the net.
His return could arguably not be better timed. Arsenal’s defence has come in for a lot of criticism this year. And the fans are desperate to see the 24-year-old back playing week-in, week-out.
But when Emery was asked about the chances of Bellerin playing 90 minutes this weekend, the Gunners boss suggested that he is not going to rush the defender back.
“I think no. Maybe in his mind yes. But we need to also listen to the doctor’s. Tonight is the first day and minutes, we are going to share some minutes with the U23s,” he said, as reported by Football London, when asked about his chances of starting on Monday.
“He’s going to be progressively, it depends how he’s feeling. In his mind he’s feeling very well. The first minutes were amazing for him. We are going to use Ainsley [Maitland-Niles] and Calum Chambers to help us in this position and also with his attitude.”
It is obviously the right decision to take a cautious approach with Bellerin. The last thing Arsenal or Bellerin himself needs is for another serious injury to occur.
It is clear that Arsenal are a better side with Bellerin at right-back. So the Gunners need to be prepared to wait a little longer if that is what is going to allow the defender to get back to his best.