Unai Emery is confident that Laurent Koscielny will be available for Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Qarabag.
Koscielny has not featured for the first-team since he ruptured his Achilles tendon back in May but the 33-year-old central defender, Arsenal’s captain, is closing in on his return.
The Frenchman played for Arsenal’s Under-23 side against Derby last month and completed 85 minutes for the U21s in their 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth on Tuesday evening.
There were concerns as Koscielny hobbled off the pitch at Fratton Park but U21 coach Freddie Ljungberg confirmed the centre-back was merely struggling with cramp.
Koscielny has taken part in regular training sessions with Arsenal’s first-team and Emery is hoping to play the France international against Qarabag next week.
‘We’re on the right way with him, he played two matches with the U23s and our plan is maybe can play against Qarabag,’ Emery said.
‘He is working with us in the training and playing with the U23s and I think the next step is then to be with us.
Asked what Koscielny will bring to the side, Emery replied: ‘Experience, quality, personality.’
Koscielny’s return comes as a timely boost after Rob Holding was stretchered off in a leg brace during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United.
Emery revealed that Koscielny gave an inspirational pitch before Arsenal’s 4-2 victory over Tottenham in the north London derby at the weekend.
‘Every player is like me, when it is a derby we need the other players to give us his experience and character,’ Emery said following the win.
‘For example, our meeting today finished with a speech from Laurent Koscielny, for one minute, which gave us the will to win.
‘A result like today and how we are playing is good for our confidence. Now we plan for three points at Manchester United on Wednesday.’
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Originally Authored By: Tom Olver