Unai Emery thinks Sead Kolasinac will be available for tomorrow’s game with Burnley but has hinted that Laurent Koscielny could be given a breather after three appearances in quick succession.
Kolasinac has recovered from the thigh problem he picked up in a training a week ago and could be charged with playing the left wing-back role, freeing up Nacho Monreal to play as part of a three-man defence.
Kos, who has only just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, racked up minutes against Qarabag, Southampton and Sp*rs in the space of six days; arguably more than we’d ideally have given him, but necessary in light of the absence of others.
Asked for an update on the state of his squad, Emery told his pre-game press conference, “We know today, the latest news, and for example Mkhitaryan is out. Koscielny is okay but he played two matches this week and tomorrow will be a lot for him.
“We also need to be calm with him, to take time for a lot of matches before he continues playing.
“Sead Kolasinac, I think for tomorrow is okay. Players are continuing to recover with Sead. I don’t remember now. Mkhitaryan is out. Mustafi is also, for tomorrow, out too.”
Emery went on to outline his admiration for Koscielny and took the time to praise Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner for their willingness to play out of position in recent games.
“I trust him [Koscielny] and we have solutions for who can play in this position,” said the boss.
“For example, I read a little criticism for our midfielders like Xhaka playing centre back, but I am very happy with him because his mentality is a very big mentality.
“He helped us, and he played left back too sometimes and I think he played well. This reason, for me, is that I trust in another player and tomorrow we are going to play with the first 11 and other players in the bench with our performance.
“I think we’re in a good position to play against Burnley. With respect, but with believing in our work, in our possibilities in other players to play, like a centre back or a midfielder.
“Above all, I think the mentality is a very big mentality to help us. We have the players and they are playing out of position, like Xhaka and Lichtsteiner last week at Southampton.”