Arsenal manager Unai Emery has said that Hector Bellerin is unlikely to feature against Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday night despite his recent return from a long-term knee injury.
The Spain international made his Gunners comeback after more than eight months against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup third round and he managed to contribute an assist in a lively 15-minute cameo.
Despite this, Emery does not believe the right-back will return to Premier League action anytime soon and the 24-year-old will continue to step up his fitness with the development squad.
“I think no. Maybe in his mind yes, but we need to listen to the doctor and the doctor wants to do it progressively. Really tonight is the first day and the first minutes, and we are going to maybe share some minutes with the under-23s,” he was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been a regular for the right-back role in the league this season and the 22-year-old will be available for the United clash after serving a one-match domestic suspension during the recent Cup tie against Forest, which the Gunners won by a comfortable 5-0 scoreline.
Still, Emery has a potential selection headache on his hands, considering Calum Chambers has hugely impressed in the past two games for the side with one goal and three assists, though part of that contribution has come from the left side of the defence.
With Daniel James in the opposition ranks, Emery may prefer Maitland-Niles over Chambers because of his agility while tracking back but it remains to be seen whether the latter can feature elsewhere.
Both David Luiz and Sokratis were rested for the midweek League Cup clash and it will be interesting to see whether Chambers or Rob Holding can break the senior central defensive partnership, which has been error prone this term.