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Mikel Arteta provides Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Odegaard fitness update

Arteta provides Aubameyang, Odegaard fitness update
© Reuters
The Gunners face Slavia Prague on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is waiting on the fitness of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Martin Odegaard ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.

The Gunners have been boosted by the availability of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, with the latter having missed Sunday’s win at Sheffield United due to an ankle injury and Saka coming off at Bramall Lane with a thigh problem.

Both will feature in Prague, with the tie finely poised following a 1-1 draw in last week’s first leg, but Arteta must assess Aubameyang (illness) and Real Madrid loanee Odegaard (ankle) after they sat out Tuesday training.

Asked if they will train on Wednesday, he replied: “It depends how they wake up. (On Tuesday) none of them could train. Hopefully (on Wednesday) it is a sunnier day so maybe it is better.

“I don’t know, we have to see how they are. We still have a couple of other ones as well from the last few days, so we’ll have to see how everybody is and after training how they react for (Wednesday’s) game.”

Arteta also provided an update on the future of highly rated 19-year-old Folarin Balogun, with the young forward “very close” to signing a new deal at the Emirates.

The striker had looked likely to leave the club for free this summer, with his current contract due to expire on June 30, but he is now expected to commit his long-term future to the Gunners.

Folarin Balogun file photo
Folarin Balogun is ‘very close’ to a new Arsenal deal, says Mikel Arteta (Tim Goode/PA)

“We will make it official when it is official and everything is done,” the Arsenal manager said.

“As I said before, I have always been positive that he wants to stay at the club. We want him to stay at the club, so we are very close.”

Balogun scored his first senior goal in a Europa League victory over Molde in November.

Arsenal will definitely be without David Luiz and Kieran Tierney (both knee) on Thursday.

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