'Very hopeful' - Mikel Arteta delivers William Saliba injury update ahead of Arsenal's Premier League title push
- Saliba has missed just one PL game this season
- Holding set to start against Leeds
- Defender has not trained since the injury
WHAT HAPPENED? Saliba has not featured for Arsenal since limping off during the first half of the Europa League second leg tie with Sporting CP earlier this month with a back problem.
The centre-back has not yet even been able to return to training due to the issue, which forced him to miss his first Premier League game of the season against Crystal Palace before the international break. Rob Holding replaced him for the 4-1 success and is expected to fill in for the Frenchman again this weekend.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leeds, Arteta said: “He [Saliba] is progressing. Unfortunately, he feels some discomfort in his back and we are trying to manage him in the best possible way. He’s not going to be fit for this game [against Leeds] but we are trying, he is trying to do everything he can to feel better and get back training, but not yet. We don’t know if it happened the previous game as he had a very awkward landing against Fulham but before that he was fine."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: When pushed on whether Saliba would be able to feature again this season, Arteta added: “Yeah, I’m very hopeful and he is as well. Back injuries are a bit tricky, how they evolve with the load in certain areas but he’s very positive about it, the medical staff are positive about it, so let’s push it every day a little bit and see how he copes with that and how the pain develops. He’s so willing to be back with the team.
"Hopefully we [can] get the right load for him, the right amount of rest that he needs while we’re keeping him active. And the pain starts to go away and we are more comfortable with the images we have of him that we can start to take him to the pitch and do certain activities with him. That’s it."
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WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL? The Gunners host Leeds United on Saturday looking to maintain their lead at the top of the table.