Mikel Arteta sweating over Bukayo Saka thigh injury

Tom Gott
Bukayo Saka is an injury doubt for the Slavia Prague game
Bukayo Saka is an injury doubt for the Slavia Prague game / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confessed that the thigh injury picked up by young forward Bukayo Saka in Sunday's 3-0 win over Sheffield United is 'the last thing Arsenal need'.

Deployed in the number ten role after ankle injuries ruled both Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe out of the game, Saka managed the best part of 70 minutes before a challenge with Rhian Brewster forced him off the field and onto the sidelines, where he was pictured with an ice pack strapped to his thigh.

Bukayo Saka
Saka limped off with a thigh injury / Pool/Getty Images

Arsenal have a crunch tie with Slavia Prague to look forward to in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday - when they will hope for a better result that the 1-1 draw from the first leg - and Arteta confessed he has no idea whether Saka will be available for the game.

"I don't know yet," Arteta said (via Sky Sports News) when asked about the severity of Saka's injury. "He had to come off as he had discomfort in his thigh which is the last thing that we needed.

"We're missing some big players out at the moment so the last thing we need is another one. Hopefully it's not that serious.

"I don't know the extent of it. For Thursday, David [Luiz] will be out, Kieran [Tierney] will be out and then with Emile and Martin, we don't know yet. We'll have to see how Bukayo develops in the next few days.

"I hope Pierre-Emerick [Aubameyang] can be back for Thursday - he was unwell yesterday and couldn't train but hopefully in the next day or two he can be better."

With Odegaard and Smith Rowe both sidelined, it was Willian who was deployed as a makeshift ten, and the Brazilian may be forced to keep that role against Slavia. Other options at Arteta's disposal are Spanish midfielders Dani Ceballos and 18-year-old Miguel Azeez - the latter of whom made his first Premier League squad on Sunday.

Viictory over Sheffield United leaves Arsenal ninth in the Premier League table, ten points behind the top four.

Mikel Arteta
Arteta is working with a depleted squad / TIM KEETON/Getty Images

Winning the Europa League appears to be the only way Arsenal will reach the Champions League next season, so it's not hard to understand why Arteta is concerned by if Saka's possible absence for the game against Slavia.

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