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Kieran Tierney may hand Arsenal further international duty frustration

In an international break that has probably left few clubs feeling like winners, Arsenal would certainly be forgiven for feeling particularly bemused about having to let a number of key men head off to play for their countries.

Mikel Arteta has already had to deal with a number of long-term injuries during his brief time in charge. And it now appears that at least one key player is set to join some of his teammates on the sidelines.

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As reported by BBC Sport, Mohamed Elneny has tested positive for coronavirus while away with Egypt. The midfielder is awaiting a further test, but is now a doubt for the Gunners’ next two games.

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It remains to be seen if any further problems emerge before the players return. But perhaps the player Arteta will now be most nervous about is Kieran Tierney.

Tierney has endured a tough start to life in North London following his £25 million move (via Sky Sports). On the pitch, it has been difficult to ask more of the left-back. But injuries plagued much of his first campaign with the Gunners.

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However, this term, Tierney has been able to hold down a regular spot in the side. In fact, he has already made 11 appearances in all competitions.

And unsurprisingly, he has been one of the Gunners’ most consistent players. He was one of the few to receive any praise following the disappointing defeat to Aston Villa before the break.

But Arsenal may now face a nervous wait to find out if Tierney will be ready to pick up where he left off once he returns to North London.

That is because Tierney is surely in danger of playing every minute of Scotland’s three games in this break.

Steve Clarke’s men needed 120 minutes and penalties to beat Serbia in their play-off on Thursday. And with Andrew Robertson absent at the weekend, Tierney played the full game against Slovakia in the Nations League on Sunday.

Clarke has previously suggested that he is hopeful that Robertson will return to face Israel on Wednesday (via The Scotsman). But if the Liverpool man is not risked, Tierney may perhaps be needed once again. And there is a possibility that both men could be involved.

It is another important game for Scotland. They sit one point clear in their Nations League group with one game remaining. So it would be a surprise if any key players were rested.

Arteta will also have to factor in how the emotions of the past few days may have affected Tierney.

In fairness to Tierney, he seems to be a character who will always put his hand up to play if he is not carrying an injury. So it may be that he is back for Sunday’s clash with Leeds.

But Arteta’s decision will not be easy – particularly if he does play a further 90 minutes on Wednesday.

Scotland will have been to Serbia, Slovakia and Israel by the time this break is over. So expecting Tierney to be fresh enough to hit the ground running once the Premier League resumes is asking a lot of the 23-year-old.

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