Mikel Arteta says there’s still a chance Takehiro Tomiyasu is available on Saturday, despite his absence from the Japan squad.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Arsenal goes off injured during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road on December 18, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Arsenal goes off injured during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road on December 18, 2021. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Takehiro Tomiyasu was a notable absentee from the Japan squad named this week, prompting speculation that he would be unavailable for Arsenal as well.

The right-back did miss out on Arsenal’s match against Liverpool, but Mikel Arteta claims there’s still a chance he’s involved against Aston Villa.

“There is a chance, but we don’t know,” Arteta said. “Let’s see today. He had a recurring injury around the same place. After that, you have to be very cautious.”

That still doesn’t sound hugely optimistic, but it at least suggests that Tomiyasu is hoping to be fit before the international break is over.

That’s good news for the run-in, particularly as Arsenal have to play Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession in April.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Joe Gelhardt of Leeds United battles for possession with Takehiro Tomiyasu of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road on December 18, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND: Joe Gelhardt of Leeds United battles for possession with Takehiro Tomiyasu of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road on December 18, 2021. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Japan have some pivotal World Cup qualifiers coming up this month, particularly the opening game against Australia.

If they win, they’ll guarantee finishing above Australia and thus achieve qualification to the final tournament.

If they lose, Japan would be relying on Australia slipping up in the final game or a tricky qualifying play-off run in the summer.

Tomiyasu was on a run of five straight starts for Japan before his injury problems this year, playing at centre-back and keeping three clean sheets in those five games.

But Arsenal, Tomiyasu, and Japan evidently decided that it wasn’t worth the risk to his fitness to include him this time.

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