Arteta on Gabriel and Saliba's injury status

Gabriel and William Saliba celebrate our goal against Fulham

Mikel Arteta isn’t yet sure if he’ll have either of his first-choice centre-backs available for Sunday’s game against Newcastle United, with Gabriel struggling for fitness.

The Brazilian defender came off in the latter stages of our 3-1 win against Chelsea on Tuesday after struggling with an ankle issue throughout the second half, and has been working hard to try and ensure he recovers in time for the Tyneside trip.

However, Mikel believes he’ll have to make a late call on Gabi, especially with William Saliba also ruled out of the clash between the second and third-placed sides in the table.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the boss said on Gabriel: “We’ll have to see tomorrow how he is, but he could not finish the game [against Chelsea] so that was obviously a big sign for us and we’ll have to see how he is tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, he provided an update on Saliba’s back injury which has now kept him out of our last seven matches. Mikel hopes he can still play a part this season, but is conscious of not rushing him back sooner than he is ready for.

“He’s feeling better every single day but he’s still not been able to have any activity around the first-team, so we don’t expect him to be with us [at Newcastle],” Mikel added.

“It’s about the healing process. Pain-wise and with things that he can do now off the pitch, I think he is in a good place, but we have to build his capacity again to have the right impact, the right load and be in good condition to train and play for the team.

“We are not yet [ruling him out for the season], because we are always hopeful and players are always pushing to play but if that is the case then we will announce that. Hopefully that will not be the case.”

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