Hector Bellerin wanted to play the full 90 against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, but the medical staff advised against it and want him to continue playing minutes for the u23s.
Bellerin came off the bench late on to provide an assist against Nottingham Forest in Arsenal’s 5-0 win, but it appears he’s set to return to the u23s this Saturday against Liverpool.
Speaking to the media after Bellerin’s comeback, Unai Emery confirmed that the Spanish right-back was pushing to start against Forest. The Arsenal team didn’t think that was such a good idea.
“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,” Emery said.
“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.
“I think no [he can’t play 90 minutes against Manchester United next]. 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.”
Arsenal have a couple of youth fixtures in the coming week, first against Liverpool u23s on Saturday, then against Peterborough United in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
It seems pretty likely Bellerin will feature in the former, as Arsenal take things slow with his recovery. After that, they can decide whether the right-back is ready for a start in the Europa League against Standard Liege, or if he needs more youth minutes in Peterborough.
The Manchester United game appears to have come too soon for him, but that always looked like it was going to be the case. The most important thing is that he’s ready for all the big games to come at the end of the year, not that he’s available for one match right now.