Arsenal are certain to keep a close eye on Calum Chambers' status, with Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka confirming that the versatile defender, currently on a season-long loan at the Riverside Stadium, could be sidelined for up to a month due to an injured foot.
"There's Antonio Barragan, Gaston Ramirez and Calum Chambers," the Spaniard responded to questions over injury concerns at a press conference held before Saturday's (28 January) FA Cup fourth-round visit of basement strugglers Accrington Stanley. "Calum has a stress fracture in his foot. I don't know how long he will be out for or if it will be one, two, three or four weeks. At the minute he's trying to get fit as soon as possible."
Chambers who has won three caps for England has been a first-team regular for Middlesbrough so far this term, featuring 18 times across all competitions.
The 21-year-old made 58 appearances for Arsenal after signing from Southampton in a £16m ($20.1m) deal before falling behind the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel Paulista, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding in Arsene Wenger's defensive pecking order. He started alongside summer signing, Holding, on the opening day of the season as the Gunners were beaten 4-3 by Premier League title rivals Liverpool in a wholly chaotic affair.
In addition to fitness issues, Karanka also addressed the plethora of transfer rumours currently concerning Middlesbrough with only a matter of days left to go before the January window shuts. Rather than attempt to cagily conceal his interest in a number of targets, however, he openly admitted that the club were actively pursuing deals for Paris Saint-Germain outcast Jese Rodriguez and in-demand Hull City forward Robert Snodgrass.
"Our interest [in Jese] is massive," he said. "He's a player I've know for the last seven or eight years, and one of my favourite players when I was working in Spain. I know his potential and his character, he is a Champions League player and has the quality to help us a lot. His next move is really important for him – he has an amazing future in front of him and we're trying to convince him that his future can be here."
On Snodgrass, also the subject of accepted £10m bids from Burnley and West Ham United, he added: "He is another player I like. The club is working well behind the scenes and doing what they have to do. But I don't know the details 100% because I don't need to be behind every situation – that means I can focus on the games. We have another five days to see what will happen."
Karanka also confirmed speculation that Ramirez had handed in a transfer request amid attention from Leicester City. However, he further insisted that the initial offer received by Middlesbrough for his services did not match their valuation.
"No one player is more important than the team, but the offer has to be right for the club before a player will leave."