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HomeSportsEddie Nketiah weeks away from recovery

Eddie Nketiah weeks away from recovery

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Nketiah limped off in his side's 4-0 win over Everton in March and has not appeared since
Nketiah limped off in his side’s 4-0 win over Everton in March and has not appeared since

Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah is still several weeks away from recovering from an ankle injury he picked up earlier this month, says boss Mikel Arteta.

The 23-year-old scored six goals in 12 games before he was sidelined with the injury.

“It was a nasty injury and he has a big challenge ahead of him,” said Arteta.

But Gabriel Jesus’ return is a welcome boost as the Gunners prepare for a Europa League last-16 second leg against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.

Brazil forward Jesus returned as a substitute in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Fulham, coming on in the 77th minute, after a spell out with a knee injury sustained at the World Cup.

And he could make his first Arsenal start since November against Sporting.

“It was great to see him back. You can feel the happiness of everyone,” Arteta said.

“We missed him and now he’s back. We have to manage his minutes, his involvement in the squad and the team.

“He’s feeling good and every day he’s training he says his sensations are better and better, so that’s really positive,” he added.

The attacking impetus at Fulham was provided by Gabriel Martinelli, who scored the second goal, and fellow forward Leandro Trossard, who recorded a hat-trick of assists for a side who are five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Nketiah had deputised for the former Manchester City striker until limping off during a 4-0 win over Everton on 1 March and is unlikely to be back in action until the final days of the season.

“He’s getting better,” Arteta said. “He’s still in the [protective] boot. He’s still a few weeks away and we need to be patient.

“Thank God, it could have been worse. So he’s not in a bad place.”

Arteta insisted the Europa League is not a distraction from the title race, with his side seeking to progress after drawing the first leg against Sporting 2-2 in Portugal.

“We haven’t had big European nights for three years. Due to Covid especially,” he said.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] is the first one for a while. Hopefully, we will build a big atmosphere and enjoy with our supporters against a really good team that is going to put a big challenge in front of us.”

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