Emery unsure on status of Bellerin’s injury



Unai Emery wasn’t in a position to rule Hector Bellerin in or out of Saturday’s game with Liverpool only that his compatriot complained of a pain in his muscle during half time of the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

Stephan Lichtsteiner came on as a like-for-like replacement at the break but the injury problems that have hit the defence are a worry at the moment.

“Yes, he’s injured,” said Unai Emery in his post-game press conference. “I hope it’s not a big injury, but he had muscular pains.

“I don’t know [whether he’s a doubt for the Liverpool game next Saturday].”

Both left-backs Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac were absent for the third time this week meaning Granit Xhaka had to fill in again in defence. While the Swiss helped himself to a stunning goal to level the scores he went on to concede a late penalty that ultimately led to two dropped points.

His lack of pace against the speed and trickery of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Robert Firmino will no doubt play heavy on the mind of Emery, who first has to field a side to take on Blackpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, selected at left-back for the opening day defeat to Manchester City, has returned to full training and got minutes with the under-23s as they drew 1-1 with Swansea this week. Judging by coach Freddie Ljungberg’s comments, we may not want to risk him out of position.

“He’s been training for 10 days or two weeks or so now and we were asked by the first team to play him for a few minutes and get him ready,” said Ljungberg after the game.

“He did well and of course he was a little rusty because he hasn’t played football for a long time, but that’s why he was in the game today, so he could get ready, feel it and keep up with the tempo in the game, so it was nice to have him here.”