By 90Min
October 24, 2018

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is sweating over the fitness of three first team defenders but admits that he is hopeful they will all return to the pitch when the Gunners take on Sporting CP in the Europa League.

Full backs Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolašinac have been forced to miss a number of games this season through injury, with veteran right back Stephan Lichtsteiner and midfielder Granit Xhaka plugging the gap in defence during Arsenal's recent win over Leicester City.

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Sokratis Papastathopoulos missed the club's victory on Monday after returning from international duty, where Greece lost to Finland in the UEFA Nations League, with a slight ankle injury.

Head coach Emery, however, is hopeful to see all three players return when Arsenal travel to the Estádio José Alvalade on Thursday.

"[Sunday] was a very bad day for our injuries because we lost two in the same position like Sead Kolašinac and Nacho Monreal," Emery said after the win over Leicester City, quoted by

"They were in training with a small problem, but we did the group for today with both but this morning the news is they are not good to play.

"We had another player to help us like Lichtsteiner today and Xhaka - he played 30 minutes at left-back - but for us, for our balance it's better Nacho or Sead are OK to play in this position and we are going to look at how they are for the next matches, but I hope they can play on Thursday or shortly afterwards

"Sokratis, he trained yesterday. I think he can stay for Thursday and we are going to look because now with a lot of matches in a few days it's important the players get the good preparation."

Arsenal's win over Claude Puel's Foxes on Monday saw the club extend their winning run to 10 games across all competitions. 

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Emery will be desperate to keep his perfect start in the Europa League going on Thursday, and the former Paris Saint-Germain boss will be confident following Sporting CP's poor start to the league season in Portugal.

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