Hold­ing likely to miss rest of the sea­son

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Sam Dean

Arse­nal de­fender Rob Hold­ing is set to miss the rest of the sea­son after suf­fer­ing a se­ri­ous knee in­jury in Wed­nes­day’s 2-2 draw with Manch­ester United.

It is un­der­stood that Hold­ing, who is due to have an op­er­a­tion next week, could be ruled out for as long as nine months with a cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in­jury.

Unai Emery, the Arse­nal head coach, said yes­ter­day that “the first news is not good” for the cen­tre­back, who has im­pressed this sea­son after con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the club on loan in the sum­mer.

Hold­ing has started 15 of Arse­nal’s past 17 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing on the left side of a back three in their past three league fix­tures. The 23-year-old’s in­jury has made the im­mi­nent re­turn of Lau­rent Ko­scielny all the more im­por­tant for Arse­nal. The club cap­tain has not played for the first team since he rup­tured his Achilles dur­ing the Europa League semi-fi­nal against Atletico Madrid last sea­son.

“We are on a grad­ual way with him,” Emery said of Ko­scielny. “He has played two matches with the Un­der-23s. He played 85 min­utes on Tues­day and our plan is that he can maybe be with us in the 18 on Satur­day.

“He’s work­ing with us with very big per­for­mances ev­ery day in train­ing. He’s play­ing for the Un­der-23s with a good feel­ing. The next step is for him to be with us.

“He gives us ex­pe­ri­ence, qual­ity, per­son­al­ity,” Emery added. “We need ev­ery player and we need also for him to train with us. The next step is play­ing.”

Me­sut Ozil, mean­while, has been work­ing on his own with a phys­io­ther­a­pist be­cause of the back pain that kept the mid­fielder out of the games against Tot­ten­ham and United. A de­ci­sion will be made to­day on whether the Ger­man will be avail­able for to­mor­row’s home game against Hud­der­s­field Town.

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