Arsenal have reportedly received an injury setback ahead of their Europa League round of 16 first-leg versus AC Milan. The Gunners are expected to be without the services of Hector Bellerin, who has been sidelined with a knee problem.
Bellerin, 22, was a surprise exclusion from the starting lineup for the 2-1 Premier League defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, and this led to speculation over his long-term future with the club.
However, according to The Mirror, the move was taken as a precaution as the right-back had a tight hamstring, and he now appears to have been hampered by a knee problem, which he had sustained earlier in the season.
As per the report, the Spaniard had completed training as usual with his teammates on Wednesday morning, but the club have left him out for the San Siro trip in order to avoid any long-term issues with his knee.
With this, the north London club are without both first-choice full-backs in Bellerin and Nacho Monreal for the Milan outing, with the latter sustaining a back problem during the League Cup final against Manchester City last month.
Arsenal fans have had little to celebrate about since the turn of the year, and the Europa League now remains their only hope of claiming silverware in what is turning out to be a poor season by their standards in the Premier League.
Prior to the 2016/17 campaign, Arsene Wenger had guided the Gunners to a top-four spot in every season in charge, but this does not appear an assurance anymore with the club very much certain to finish sixth this term.
Winning the Europa League does offer a route to next season’s Champions League group stage, but judging by the Gunners’ form, they are likely to take step-by-step with the upcoming double-legged tie versus Milan critical to their ambitions as well as Wenger’s future.