Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka returns to training and allays World Cup fears

Bukayo Saka could feature in Arsenal’s Europa League match on Thursday night. The 21-year-old winger allayed fears he could miss the World Cup through injury as he trained on Wednesday with his Arsenal teammates.

Saka was forced off during the 5-0 win against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, lasting 27 minutes after taking a kick to the ankle, just over three weeks until England open their World Cup campaign against Iran.

Saka then trained at Arsenal’s London Colney base as the squad prepared for their match against FC Zürich at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday and Mikel Arteta said he could be in contention to feature in the game.

“Bukayo just missed one or two [training sessions] and he was fine today,” the manager said. “We’re using our brains and our common sense, but he had a kick. He was uncomfortable with it, we made the decision to get him off and now he’s feeling fine.”

Arteta was involved in a heated touchline debate with Saka and the club doctor, Gary O’Driscoll, and said Saka was trying to play through the pain before the decision was taken to replace him with Reiss Nelson, who went on to score twice in the comfortable victory.

“The conversation was easy – he’s in, or he’s out – but in between we can’t have a player [injured] for five, six, seven minutes,” he said. “We have to make a decision and that’s it. We cannot delay a situation like that because every minute that a player is not 100% to play is costing the team.”

With the World Cup imminent, Arteta is keen to keep focus among his players on Arsenal duty as they battle to top their Europa League group and stay at the Premier League summit.

“Every day I feel responsibility to protect them, to guide them, to get the best out of them,” he said.

“But we are playing for Arsenal at the moment and that’s what they have to focus on. When they play for England or their national teams they have to focus on the national team and on England.”