Oleksandr Zinchenko faces a late fitness test before Arsenal’s clash with Liverpool, but Mikel Arteta is not expecting to be able to welcome anyone else back to his squad for the weekend.
Zinchenko missed Arsenal’s game against Fulham on New Year’s Eve having sustained a calf injury and remains a doubt for the Gunners’ tricky FA Cup third-round fixture against Liverpool.
‘He’s progressing well. We have another training session tomorrow. We’ll evaluate if he’s ready to start the game,’ Arteta said when asked about the Ukrainian’s fitness.
Arsenal’s options at full-back have been weakened further by Takehiro Tomiyasu’s departure for the Asian Cup, with Jakub Kiwior a potential option at left-back having played there against Fulham last weekend.
Elsewhere, Fabio Vieira, Thomas Partey and Jurrien Timber are continuing their rehab from various longer-term injuries, with Arteta not expecting an imminent return for any of the injured trio.
Partey underwent surgery in November with the hope of being fit for this month’s African Cup of Nations but has stayed with Arsenal to continue his recovery.
‘It was about common sense,’ Arteta said when asked about Partey not joining up with Ghana. ‘He had a long-term injury. He really wanted to be with his national team but he’s still far from training for the team and it didn’t make sense for him to be involved.
‘Hopefully, it’s weeks [and not months until he is back]. That will be determined by how the next step in terms of bringing him back into training goes.’
Vieira also underwent surgery more recently on a groin injury and Arteta was positive about the early stages of the Portuguese midfielder’s recovery.
‘He’s doing well but it was a surgery that required two different things to get results,’ he said. ‘The first signs were good but he needs to keep working and hopefully, in the next few weeks we can have him back.’
Timber, meanwhile, remains a long-term absentee having undergone ACL surgery at the start of the season.
‘Unfortunately, that’s a very long-term injury. He’s doing really well but he’s still far from being fit to train. We don’t expect him any time soon,’ Arteta ended.