Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has publicly clarified the length of time that centre-back Shkodran Mustafi will be sidelined for.

The 24-year-old defender, who has settled into the Gunners’ first team seamlessly since a £35m move from Valencia in August, limped off before the half-hour mark at the Emirates during their 3-1 win over Stoke on Saturday.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal speaks to a member of the Arsenal medical team after going down injured during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 10: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal speaks to a member of the Arsenal medical team after going down injured during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Post-match, the boss was questioned about the severity of Mustafi’s injury, “I believe it looks quite a good hamstring strain. Good as in a bad sense,” Wenger was initially quoted as saying.

When pushed for more detail in his answer, the 67-year-old said: “It’s a bad one. The minimum for an injury like that is 21 days – so he will have a nice Christmas.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal is subbed off injured during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 10: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal is subbed off injured during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

This is Mustafi’s first injury for twelve months, having sustained a muscle issue at Valencia in December last year, missing three league games as a consequence.

Gabriel Paulista has established his first team credentials in an unfamiliar role at right-back with Hector Bellerín (ankle) previously sidelined, but now that the talented Spaniard has returned, it’s likely that the Brazilian will be rewarded with an extended run-in as the Christmas fixtures continue to pile up over the coming weeks.

Per Mertesacker (knee) is still at least a few weeks away from a return to first team football, having been pictured in training this past week. The experienced defender will be hoping to feature in some capacity as he eyes a starting spot in 2017, aiming to reunite his partnership at centreback alongside Laurent Koscielny.

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