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Arsenal boss issues fitness update on Pepe, Bellerin, Tierney, Holding & more

By on September 13, 2019

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Unai Emery has been speaking at his press conference this afternoon and he’s provided an update on the fitness of several players ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Watford on Sunday.

Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney stepped-up their injury recoveries after resuming full training this week but Emery has confirmed the full-backs are going to be given plenty of time to build-up their fitness before they’ll be in contention for the first team.

The duo will continue to be assessed in training and Emery has suggested they will be given game-time with the Arsenal U23s in order to build-up their match fitness and confidence before being made available for first team duty.

Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock all gave Arsenal injury scares after picking up knocks during the international break but thankfully Emery says he has no fresh injury concerns to worry about so it seems the midfield trio are available to face Watford.

There was a concern over Nicolas Pepe after he pulled out of the Ivory Coast squad but the attacker was simply given time off to build up his fitness with Arsenal instead of playing for his country and Emery has confirmed the winger is available this weekend.

Rob Holding is on the verge of making his long-awaited comeback from a serious knee injury after returning to full training following nine months on the sidelines. Emery has suggested Holding is unlikely to be involved against Watford but hinted the centre-back could make his first team comeback within the next week meaning he may be in the squad to face Frankfurt on Thursday night.

Emery told Arsenal.com:

on Hector and Kieran…

They are now closer to us but they need to continue working and taking training with us for their fitness. They can feel very comfortable coming back to play with us, Kieran Tierney starting and Hector Bellerin coming back after his injury.

on a date for their return…

Not yet, because it depends on their progress for the next weeks and maybe also we can decide to play at the beginning with the under-23s before, to be ready with us. Maybe if they play with the under-23s they can take confidence and better their rhythm and then after play with us 100 per cent.

on if they could return this month…

Really, we need to look at the next steps in each training and also if we decide that they play with the under-23s. But they did that week, the first time training normally with us, and we want in the next week again to take the normality in training with us. I think after that week, we can decide how they are [in terms of] starting to play with the under-23s and with us.

on any other fitness issues…

They are ready.

on Nicolas Pepe…

Yes, yes, he is training well and he is ready for Sunday.

on if he’s looking forward to Holding’s return..

Rob is training with us, he is playing with the under-23s in matches and he is very close to playing with us. But when, in each training, if he is going to play with the under-23s then that match is important for him to feel good, to feel comfortable, to feel confident. It’s a possibility that in the next week he could play with us.

So the squad is beginning to look healthy and within the next few weeks we should have Bellerin, Holding and Tierney all available for selection which will be a HUGE boost to the defence.

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