Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said that goalkeeper Mat Ryan has yet to train with the club since suffering an injury soon after joining the Gunners and as a result, the Australian goalkeeper is a doubt for the club’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday.
Alex Runarsson is fit and will start for the North London side if Ryan does not return to fitness on time. The Iceland international has been training with the Gunners and made a substitute appearance in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Molineux on Tuesday after Bernd Leno was sent off. Leno is set to miss the next three Premier League games as a result.
Since moving to the Emirates in the summer, Runarsson has made six appearances in all competitions. His performances in the Europa League and Carabao Cup have not filled Gooners with confidence and his involvement in the game against Aston Villa over the weekend will be a source of stress for the Arsenal faithful.
It looks like the young goalkeeper needs to gain more experience perhaps on loan at another club before being ready to play for the North London club.
Leno’s suspension and Ryan’s injury could force Arteta to play the Icelandic goalkeeper this weekend. If the former Brighton goalkeeper returns to fitness, he is likely to start for the Gunners against Aston Villa.
On Ryan’s fitness, Arteta said:
“He has not been available to train yet, and Alex is available, so we will have the choice between the two of them for the weekend. If Mat is able to train, and they are both fit, we will have a decision to make. If Mat is not fit, obviously Alex will be in goal.”
On if it with be gutting for Ryan to miss the game against Aston Villa, he said:
“This is football and these things happen. That’s why when we allowed Matt Macey to go, we knew that we had to get somebody else because we knew these things can happen. Unfortunately when you least need them, it actually happens. So we are more protected now, having Mat as well in the squad and let’s see if he’s fit. But for now, Alex is fit as well.”
On whether it would be strange to ask Alex to start given he’s just been removed from the Europa League squad, he said:
“No. Alex knew his role before we signed him and obviously he knows his role after we signed him. We had a plan on the goalkeeper position and we could not execute the plan in the way we wanted, for different reasons, but Alex’s role was very clear around the squad. That hasn’t changed. Then, he needs to earn his opportunity and he needs to earn his place. He is third, second or first, depending on his performance. He needs to push for that.”
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