Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal have suffered yet another injury blow after Hector Bellerin picked up a problem in training on Friday.
The full-back, who has only recently returned from an ankle problem, was left out of the squad entirely for the trip to Deepdale to play Preston in the FA Cup third round.
Speaking before the game Wenger explained his absence but refused to discuss the severity of the injury, saying via The Metro: “Bellerin was injured yesterday in training.”
Teenager Ainsley Maitland-Niles took Bellerin’s place in the side and endured a tough time against Preston, although he could have done with more help from his more experienced team-mates.
Speaking after the Bournemouth game, Wenger admitted that Bellerin had been a doubt for the trip to the Vitality Stadium because of a knock.
Although the full-back played the game, he put in arguably his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt against the Cherries in the 3-3 draw.
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Bellerin’s injury is undoubtedly a huge blow for the Gunners, although it is yet to be confirmed how long he could be out for, and also leaves Wenger with few options.
Mathieu Debuchy is still injured while Carl Jenkinson was completely overlooked when Bellerin was out at the end of last year and looks set to leave in January.
Gabriel is the most likely option to cover as right-back although both the Brazilian and the usually reliable Shkodran Mustafi have been far from their best in recent weeks.
On the plus side, Arsenal now have almost a week until their next game, against Swansea City on 14 January and Wenger will be hoping Bellerin can shrug off his latest problem in time to face Paul Clement’s side.