In light of Rob Holding’s potentially serious knee injury, Unai Emery was asked about a possible return date for Laurent Koscielny.
The Frenchman stepped up his comeback from the Achilles injury he suffered in May with 85 minutes for the under-23s in their Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Portsmouth on Tuesday.
Despite cramp forcing him off in the final stages, it looks as though he’s come through unscathed and is now ready to challenge for a spot in the first team.
“Laurent is very close to playing for us,” confirmed Emery after the 2-2 draw with Manchester United.
“He played two matches for the under-23s – the last one was on Tuesday.
“When are we thinking he will start playing with us? I don’t know if Saturday is a possibility, but we’re thinking the Europa League game against Qarabag could be a good match for him.”
Given his invaluable experience, it’ll be great to have our club captain back. Of course, he’ll have to get used to our new policy of building play from the back but that, even though he’s 33, shouldn’t be beyond him.
It’ll also be interesting to see if, in Holding absence, we continue to play with a three at the back. We’re low on personnel to keep doing that, although Nacho Monreal, now that he’s fit again, is another option there.