Hector Bellerin has dealt Arsenal a massive blow by declaring that he won’t be ready to return to first team action for another five games.
The young Spaniard’s season was cruelly interrupted by an act of needless thuggery by Danny Rose whose tackle in the dying seconds of the recent North London Derby left Bellerin with ankle ligament damage.
He was sent home early from the Spanish Under-21 squad earlier this month and has sat on the sidelines as a succession of draws have cost Arsenal in the recent run of matches.
“I am going to try to be running from this week and hopefully I’ll be back on the pitch in less than four weeks.”
It means the earliest he will be back is Boxing Day when West Ham United visit the Emirates, dashing hopes that he might be back for the trip to Manchester City.
Arsenal are under pressure at the back with Mathieu Debuchy suffering a hamstring injury in Sunday’s 3 – 1 win over Bournemouth. Although Brazilian international Gabriel filled in as a first half substitute, it leaves Carl Jenkinson as the only specialist right back in the first team squad.
Francis Coquelin played there during his ill-fated loan spell with Freiburg but was close to being sold by Arsenal at that time. His career was saved when he went to Charlton on a season-long loan deal, only to be recalled to the Emirates when injuries devastated the Arsenal midfield.
Things had been going well for Bellerin this season. On top of his game, the tweak to Arsenal’s attacking style underlined his abilities and value to the team in this area as well as defence. Contract negotiations were swiftly concluded and a new deal worth £100k per week was recently signed.
His absence left a big hole for Arsenal to fill which, at the moment, is proving to be trickier than Arsène Wenger initially imagined.