Emery says Ko­scielny still needs time

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Fred­die Keigh­ley

Unai Emery, the Arse­nal head coach, fears that Lau­rent Ko­scielny will be un­able to play three matches in a week as the de­fender con­tin­ues to re­gain his fit­ness fol­low­ing his long in­jury ab­sence last year.

Emery admitted that the club had to “push” Ko­scielny in his come­back due to the se­ries of de­fen­sive in­juries that have plagued the side in re­cent weeks.

Ko­scielny, who rup­tured his Achilles ten­don in May, has played for 90 min­utes on only two oc­ca­sions this sea­son, in the 3-2 de­feat by Southamp­ton and the 4-1 win over Ful­ham on New Year’s Day.

The 33-year-old missed last week­end’s FA Cup vic­tory over Black­pool with a back spasm, but Emery said he would be avail­able for the away game against West Ham United to­day.

“He is train­ing well, and he is OK,” Emery said. “We pushed him to play after his in­juries be­cause we needed him in some matches. It’s not easy for him to play three matches in one week. He was play­ing three matches dur­ing the week, but not 90 min­utes each match. Lit­tle by lit­tle, Ko­scielny is feel­ing bet­ter, and he can play con­sis­tently in the next matches.

“This week is per­fect for ev­ery­body. We can use the play­ers in the match on Saturday after a week of rest. The play­ers have been re­cov­er­ing for this match.”

Emery has been helped by the re­turn to full train­ing of Na­cho Mon­real, Shko­dran Mustafi and Hec­tor Bel­lerin. Me­sut Ozil will also be avail­able after miss­ing the last three matches with a knee in­jury.

Arse­nal go into their meet­ing with West Ham know­ing that a win would take them level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, who face New­cas­tle United later to­day.

Mean­while, Emery said he ex­pects to ro­tate his squad for the club’s forth­com­ing cup fix­tures, adding that “You have to bal­ance the play­ers”.

Arse­nal will play Manch­ester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup this month be­fore they meet BATE Borisov in the Europa League knock­out stages next month.

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