Arteta provides squad update ahead of Sporting

Mikel Arteta in training at London Colney

Ahead of our last-16 clash with Sporting CP, Mikel Arteta provided an injury update on our squad and spoke on managing the return of Gabriel Jesus and Emile Smith Rowe.

"It was great to see Gabby back," the boss said after our Brazilian striker made a 77th-minute appearance against Fulham. "You can feel the happiness of everybody around him: supporters, players, and staff. We missed him and now we're glad he's back."

Arteta assured that Jesus' return would be managed carefully, but that signs from training looked increasingly positive. 

"We have to manage his minutes and we have to manage his involvement in the squad and in the team. But Gabby is feeling good every day that he's training. He says that these senses are getting better and better, so that's really positive.

As for Emile Smith Rowe, who has been beleaguered with injury troubles this season, the coaching staff are continuing to monitor his progress to assess how best to use the 22-year-old. 

"We have to manage Emile's load but for sure, he's in a position where we can use him in the team at any moment. Then it's about how he's coping with the game in general and whether to take him off or use for the last few minutes."

"He knows how much we love him and how much we missed him and how much we need his qualities. Now he needs to prove it. He needs to prove how much he wants to win and how much he's going to contribute to this team. To be better and to win and he's gonna have to show that to get on the team."

Arteta confirmed that he has no further injury concerns going into Thursday's crunch game, aside from Eddie Nketiah's foot injury sustained in our win over Everton.

"He's getting better. He's still in the boot so still a few weeks away. We need to be patient - it was a nasty injury. It's a challenge that Eddie's got ahead of him, but thank God he could have been worse so he's not in a bad place."

When asked whether he would use the Europa League fixture as an opportunity for squad rotation ahead of a busy period in the Premier League, the boss assured the media that his first priority was to progress to the quarter-finals.

"We're looking to win. That was the same when we were in Lisbon, but we're gonna have to do better than we did in Lisbon to win against Sporting tomorrow."

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