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Arsenal boss reveals whether Hector Bellerin will start against Man Utd

Unai Emery has played down hopes Hector Bellerin is ready to start vs Man Utd after making his comeback during Arsenal’s win over Nottingham Forest

Unai Emery has played down hopes Hector Bellerin is ready to start against Manchester United after making his comeback during Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.

Bellerin had been on the sidelines for over nine months after suffering a serious knee ligament injury during Arsenal’s Premier League victory over Chelsea back in January of last season.

The Spanish full-back endured a long road to recovery before resuming first team training earlier this month and he stepped-up his rehabilitation by playing 60 minutes for the Arsenal U23s last Friday night.

The 24-year-old was included in Emery’s squad for last night’s Carabao Cup third round clash with Nottingham Forest at the Emirates but had to settle for a place on the bench with Calum Chambers starting at right-back.

However, Bellerin made his long-awaited comeback after coming on in the 77th minute and he made an immediate impact as he set-up Joe Willock to make it 4-0 to Arsenal with just his second touch.

Emery has now revealed that Bellerin was desperate to start the match and insists he’s ready to play the full 90 minutes, however, the Gunners boss will follow doctors advice and ease the former Barcelona trainee back into action slowly.

Many Arsenal fans have been hoping Bellerin’s return last night would lead to him starting in Monday’s crunch clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford but Emery insists the defender isn’t ready to play 90 minutes just yet.

Emery told Arsenal.com:

on Bellerin assisting on his return…
I think Hector’s attitude is a very big attitude to help us. When he was injured he was still a big mentality in the dressing room helping us. He assisted for Willock to score and also to have different options in the squad and first XI is good. We are going to play a lot of matches and tonight was his first 15 minutes (with us), which is really important. He wanted to play 90 and yesterday he told me he’s ready and wanted to play, but we decided to give him less minutes than 90. He played with the under-23s on Friday and also they are the first matches for him. We need to do it progressively and the doctor said to us that we are going to do it like that.

on whether he could play 90 minutes against United…
I think no. Maybe in his mind yes, but we need to listen to the doctor and the doctor wants to do it progressively. Really tonight is the first day and the first minutes, and we are going to maybe share some minutes with the under-23s. It depends how he’s feeling, but in his mind he’s feeling very well and I think the first minutes tonight were amazing for him. We are going to use him with Ainsley and Calum Chambers to help us in this position. The most important things about Hector are his attitude and experience. He’s wishing to help us.

It was obviously a huge boost for Arsenal to have Bellerin back on the pitch last night but he’s only played 15 minutes of first team football in nine months so it would be a big risk to throw him in from the start against United.

However, Kieran Tierney could be in Emery’s thoughts for the trip to Old Trafford after impressing during his 77 minute debut last night while Rob Holding will hope he did enough to keep his place in defence after an excellent goal-scoring performance against Forest upon his return from a knee ligament injury.

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