Arsenal loanee Dejan Iliev has missed the last three Ekstraklasa fixtures with an injury, and he’s likely to sit out for the next few games.
The following is an update from Polish writer Eryk Delinger, who is providing us with information on Iliev’s loan spell.
While the exact nature of Iliev’s injury issue remains unconfirmed, it is expected he’ll remain sidelined for around 3 weeks.
His first omission from the squad (1-1 v Lech Poznań, 28.02) coincided with a big overhaul of Jagiellonia’s XI. It was natural to think he’d shared the fate of his axed team-mates, but manager Ivaylo Petev confirmed in his presser the Arsenal loanee’s absence was health-related.
The refreshed side has since gone on to win two games in a row. While their football remains rather unspectacular, there’s certainly more drive and aggression in their performances compared to the opening three matches of 2020 (all winless and goalless).
From Iliev’s perspective, it’s perhaps a positive that his replacement Damian Węglarz isn’t having the best time. Despite Jagiellonia ending their winless run of five with a 2-1 win at Pogoń Szczecin, the 23-year-old got severely criticised for his performance – particularly for poor handling and wrong judgement when leaving the line.
A flood of negative, often hateful comments led to a Węglarz outburst on Twitter, followed by him deleting his account and claiming he’s “never returning” to the medium. While he did improve on the pitch and claimed a clean sheet in his next game (1:0 v Śląsk Wrocław), it’s clear he’s far from a fan-favourite.
Węglarz started the 19/20 season as Jagiellonia’s number one, but eventually lost out to veteran Grzegorz Sandomierski (himself forced out of the club in January due to Iliev’s arrival). Dejan’s rival is seen as an average goalkeeper, often criticised for his inability to produce match-winning saves.
The fans don’t have much confidence in him and the fact that Jaga brought in two new GKs in last two windows (32-year-old Croat Krsevan Santini turned out to be a complete flop and has since terminated his contract) shows the club echoes their sentiments.
A lot can happen between now and Iliev’s return, but at this stage, it seems likely the Arsenal man will return straight into the action as soon as he’s fit.