Laurent Koscielny travelled a little further down the comeback trail this evening as he played his first minutes of football since rupturing his Achilles tendon in May.
The Arsenal captain started for Freddie Ljungberg’s U23s against Derby County on what was a difficult night for the underage side.
They lost 5-0, finishing the game with 9 men as both Jordi Osei-Tutu (who replaced Koscielny) and Daniel Ballard were sent off within five minutes of each other. Derby also had a man dismissed but took full advantage, scoring three times in the final 20 minutes.
However, from a senior point of view, the return to action for Koscielny is very welcome, although he is likely to need more time before he’s considered for selection by Unai Emery.
When he is available though, he’ll give the head coach more depth and take away some of the risk of playing with a back three as he won’t be using all his available central defenders.
Meanwhile, the absence of Julio Pleguezuelo from tonight’s U23 game hints at his involvement in the Europa League game on Thursday, with Emery’s team selection made with Sunday’s North London derby in mind.
The Gunners face an arduous journey to Ukraine for the encounter with Vorskla, and it’s widely expected that we’ll see a very young and fringe team for that particular match.