Mikel Arteta says Granit Xhaka is doing everything he can to return from his knee injury ahead of schedule.
The Switzerland international suffered knee ligament damage in last month’s north London derby and isn’t expected to play again until the turn of the year.
Having avoided surgery, the midfielder is already back working in the gym as he looks to shorten his spell on the sidelines.
“With Granit, I don’t know, but I’m sure that if you tell him three [months], he will be thinking two [months],” said Arteta ahead of Monday’s game with Crystal Palace.
“He will be trying to do extra work to try to minimise that time, that’s for sure.
“We have to do it in the right way because it’s a significant injury and we want to have him back properly when he can.”
You can certainly understand why Arteta is wary of any setbacks. Should Xhaka’s return be delayed into 2022, the Gunners face a shortage of midfielders at a busy time of year.
As things stand, Thomas Partey and Mo Elneny, in addition to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe, are due to head to the African Cup of Nations which starts in Cameroon on 9 January. With players expected to arrive for national team training camps before their first games, some could be out of action for up to a month.
Asked about the situation, Arteta said: “Let’s see where we are at that point, which players we have available and which players definitely have to be there and for how long, because there are some question marks there as well.
“We will find a solution. If they have to leave, they have to leave. We’ll have to find the right replacements for them.”
While Sambi Lokonga and Ainsley Maitland-Niles can fill in, it’s possible we may need to venture into the transfer market yet again.