Arsenal have been dealt a major blow after manager Arsene Wenger confirmed England international Kieran Gibbs will be sidelined for six weeks. The 23-year-old left-back picked up a thigh injury during the Gunners' midweek 2-2 Premier League draw against Liverpool.
Initial reports suggested Gibbs would be unavailable for only half that time but it now seems the defender will miss both legs of Arsenal's Champions League knock-out tie against Bayern Munich.
"It will be four to six weeks. I believe Gibbs will be out for the Champions League. I [cannot] play Monreal. Santos could have a key role. Santos is the type of player who gets sharper from competition. Yes [some criticism he gets is unfair]. I believe we need two left backs. We had two before, we have two again now because Gibbs is out," Wenger explained.
News of Gibbs' extended recovery time further emphasises the fortunate signing of Spain international left-back Nacho Monreal, on deadline day. Wenger signed the 26-year-old from Spanish side Malaga for a reported £8m. The only concern for the Frenchman will be that Monreal is cup-tied for the Champions League this season, having already represented the Spanish club in the competition's group stages.
Wenger's comments indicate Brazil left-back Andre Santos is an option for the game against the Bundesliga giants. However, given his error-prone performances, it is more likely the manager will shift Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen to that position and play the German-French pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence.
Meanwhile, Wenger also confirmed Monreal is likely to feature against Stoke City, when the Gunners entertain the Potters this weekend.
"Monreal is available for the weekend game. Yes [he can improve our defence] but we want him to take part in our collective play. He can play as a left winger too and he can adapt very quickly," the Arsenal boss explained.
Hodgson: No Wilshere for U21 Championship
England manager, Roy Hodgson, has confirmed that Arsenal star midfielder Jack Wilshere will not be a part of the Three Lion's U21 European Championship campaign. Hodgson also dismissed claims of comparisons between Wilshere and Manchester United's newest recruit, Wilfried Zaha, or Liverpool's youngsters.
"It is not right to compare Jack with [Wilfried] Zaha, [Raheem] Sterling and [Jonjo] Shelvey, etc. You have to give Wilshere the credit that he has established himself as a bonafide first-team player," Hodgson said.