Mikel Arteta has confirmed that he expects Kieran Tierney to be missing for the rest of Arsenal’s season through injury.
And there are major doubts over whether he will be fit in time for Scotland’s European Championship campaign.
The 23-year-old has been one of the stand-out performers in what has largely been a disappointing season for the Gunners.
But he received a huge blow when he suffered knee ligament damage during the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend.
During Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Sheffield United on Sunday Granit Xhaka filled in at left-back in Tierney’s absence, performing admirably to help his side keep a clean sheet.
And speaking about Xhaka’s display at full-time, Arteta admitted the news on Tierney was not looking positive.
“Today he (Xhaka) had a really strong performance and he gives you another option,” Arteta said. “Kieran is out, probably for the season so we need different options at that position and he can be one of those.”
There were further worrying scenes against the Blades as Bukayo Saka was forced off injured in the second half.
And Arteta said he was not yet sure of the severity of the issue – refusing to say if he thinks he will be fit for the Europa League second leg against Slavia Prague next week or not.
He added: “I think for Thursday, David [Luiz] will be out, Kieran [Tierney] will be out – and then Emile [Smith Rowe] and Martin [Odegaard], we don’t know yet. With Bukayo [Saka], let’s see how he develops in the next few days.
Arsenal’s injuries are stacking up at the worst possible time, but their win against Sheffield United sees them move back up to ninth in the table, and they still have an outside hope of qualifying for next season’s Europa League via the Premier League.