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Arteta ‘hopeful’ Saliba not out for season/Jesus ‘creating chaos’

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William Saliba has been ruled out of Arsenal’s game against Leeds on Saturday owing to a back injury but Mikel Arteta is hopeful his season is not over.

The central defender suffered the issue during Arsenal’s defeat to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League and subsequently missed the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace and withdrew from the France squad for their Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Gunners boss Arteta revealed Saliba will not feature this weekend but played down fears that his season is over.

When asked if Saliba will play again this season, Arteta said: “Yeah I am very hopeful and he is as well. Back injuries are a bit tricky and how they evolve with the load that you put in certain areas. Let’s push it and see how he copes with that. He’s so willing to be back in the team.”

Arteta also played down any fears that surgery may be required and hopes Saliba will not be made to manage the problem in the run-in.

“I don’t know, I don’t have the answer today to answer 100 per cent what it is that is going to be the case,” the Spaniard added.

While Saliba will miss the visit of struggling Leeds, Arteta confirmed midfielder Thomas Partey will be available despite concerns of an injury suffered playing for Ghana.

“Yes, it’s something that we’ve done in the past as well,” he said of sending a physio away on international duty with Partey.

“We have a really good relationship with the Ghanaian federation and we have to manage and look after our players.

“They’ve been really positive about it as well. We have to manage our players. It works both ways.

“He obviously wasn’t fit enough to play the second game but hopefully he’ll be back for the weekend.”

Gabriel Jesus is available to face Leeds having returned from his knee injury in Arsenal’s games against Fulham and Sporting Lisbon before the international break. His inclusion in the starting XI for the Europa League exit was his first start since November and Arteta hinted he is in contention to lead the line against Leeds.

He said: “He’s very close to that [100 per cent fitness]. In the last 10 days he’s made a big step forward. You can see he’s looser and not thinking about it. He’s creating that chaos in training. He’s in a really good place now.”

Written by Ibrahim Oladamola

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