Arsene Wenger says he’s not sure when Santi Cazorla will return to the first team fold and admits he’ll have to assess Alexis Sanchez before deciding whether to take him to Old Trafford on Saturday.
Hector Bellerin, ruled out for four weeks, and Lucas Perez will definitely miss the lunchtime kick-off with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United but there’s a chance Alexis, who scored twice for Chile against Uruguay in the week, could fature after recovering from a suspected hamstring problem.
“Not a lot,” replied the boss when asked on Thursday what news he’d heard about Alexis’ injury status.
“We were in doubt 24 hours before the game against Uruguay. We didn’t know if he’d play or not. In the end they decided to play him.
“He text us back that he’s in good shape after the game, he came off after 85 minutes.
“Now we have to wait. I see him tomorrow morning and we’ll see if he can be involved in the squad or not.
“I’ll consider the risk of injury because he played when recovering from a hamstring injury and how he feels as well. On that front you depend a lot on the honesty of the player and how they feel and recover.”
He added: “You know it’s difficult to make a definite assessment. I don’t know how bad his injury was. You have to trust the medical people from Chile. I understand completely that Alexis wanted to play, these are qualifiers not friendly games. Chile is not in a fantastic position to qualify for the World Cup and I understand that Alexis is keen to play for his country in such an important game.
“After that it’s a period of November, it’s a difficult period, where the first signs [are shown] of players having played many games…it’s a period where you can pay a heavy price. Last year we lost important players in November for long periods.”
While there’s a chance that Alexis could make the trip north, the news on Cazorla is not so positive.
“Cazorla is still out, for how long I don’t exactly know but he’s still not even out in training.”
Let’s keep our fingers crossed on both fronts. It does sound as though we won’t be seeing our little Spanish maestro for a while longer though.