Unai Emery says Konstantinos Mavropanos is edging closer to a return, but the Spaniard still thinks the centre-back won’t play matches until next month.

Emery spoke about his centre-back options and Arsenal’s January transfer plans in his pre-match press conference ahead of the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night. The Gunners have had a lot of injury problems in the position, so the head coach explained how they plan to fill the gap in the team.

“I can sometimes play with Xhaka or Nacho Monreal, and also Mavropanos is starting to do training on the pitch and running,” Emery said. “Maybe in one month, he can help us, but also in this transfer window, if we have one good opportunity to help us and sign [someone], we are working for that.”

Konstantinos Mavropanos and Alexis Sanchez during Arsenal's clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2017/18 season
Konstantinos Mavropanos and Alexis Sanchez during Arsenal’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2017/18 season

Mavropanos made a strong start to life with the Arsenal first-team last season, playing well against Manchester United and Burnley. However, he then got sent off against Leicester City, leaving him suspended for the final game of the season.

After featuring in pre-season, the defender then struggled with a groin strain, and he hasn’t been able to get back fit since. First, he was supposed to be returning to full training in November. Then, Arsenal pushed his return back to December. Now, Emery seems to be suggesting he won’t be completely back until January.

Hopefully, when the centre-back does finally return, he’ll continue his good early progress and push for senior starts.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.