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06-Mar-2020, 07:12 pm

Arteta issues challenge to Saka & Tierney over Arsenal left-back spot


Kieran Tierney Bukayo Saka Arsenal

Mikel Arteta has challenged Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka to battle it out for Arsenal's left-back spot following the Scotland international's return to fitness.

Tierney, who Arsenal signed last summer in a ?25 million ($33m) deal from Celtic, has been out of action since dislocating his shoulder in the 3-1 win at West Ham in December.

But he has been back in full training this week and could possibly be included in the matchday squad for Saturday's game against the Hammers at Emirates Stadium.

Saka has made the left-back spot his own in Tierney's absence, seizing his opportunity with Arsenal's other recognised left-back, Sead Kolasinac, also suffering a string of injury issues.

But Tierney's return brings with it new competition and Arteta believes the upcoming battle for the left-sided spot can only be a good thing ahead of the final two months of the season.

"They have to compete," said Arsenal's head coach. "They have to challenge each other and improve.

"Whoever is best will be in the position, which is a really good thing for the team."

Saka's form this season has arguably been the highlight of what has otherwise been an underwhelming campaign for Arsenal.

The 18-year-old winger, who has filled in superbly at left-back, has 10 assists to his name in all competitions and has also chipped in with three goals.

His performances have even seen him mentioned as a possible late candidate for Gareth Southgate's England squad for this summer's European Championship.

And Arteta insists he would have no issue with the teenager getting an international call-up, but also sounded a word of warning.

"I think he is doing really well with us," said the Spaniard. "International level is a different level.

"It is up to the England manager to discuss whether he is ready to do that and what is he going to do with his squad. Whatever he decides we will support the idea and the player."

Saka has represented England at youth level but has yet to receive a senior call.

And Southgate could look to rush him into his squad as the Arsenal youngster could yet choose to play for Nigeria, who he qualifies for through both his parents.

"I am always thinking about it but I haven't made a decision yet," he said in December. "No-one has been in touch but when I make a decision you will find out."


Source : goal.com

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