Mikel Arteta is hopeful Kieran Tierney will be cleared to face Manchester City on Saturday even though the defender is in self-isolation after a Covid-19 scare in the Scotland squad.
Tierney was told to quarantine himself for 14 days last Tuesday after his teammate Stuart Armstrong tested positive for coronavirus during routine Uefa testing while on international duty in Glasgow. Arsenal and Tierney expressed frustration at the decision, stressing he was socially distant from Armstrong despite being identified as a close contact, and intensive efforts are continuing in an effort to ensure he is available for selection at the Etihad.
The Arsenal club doctor, Gary O’Driscoll, is leading discussions with the Lothian Health Protection Team, the Scottish government and the Scottish Football Association, with the Lothian team having the final say. Tierney returned negative tests before and after the self-isolation was imposed and Arsenal believe there would be no risk in safely returning him to London, with a view to his participation against City.
“I hope so,” Arteta said when asked whether Tierney would be available. “This is getting very complicated when we are sending players abroad and obviously you lose control. Some authorities have different regulations to the ones in the Premier League. We are still having some discussions with the authorities and hopefully we will know more this afternoon.”
It is possible no clarity will be forthcoming until Friday. Arsenal have pointed out that Tierney would be tested again for Covid-19 were he to be permitted to return to their training ground.
One player certain not to be involved is Mesut Özil, who was left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad last week and could face a similar fate when their 25-man group for Premier League games is finalised next Tuesday. Arteta said it had been hard to omit Özil, who turned 32 on Thursday, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos from his selection.
“It’s a really difficult decision for me to make because to leave players out of the squad at that level, where they know they cannot get involved, is really tough,” he said. “I don’t like it at all, but the decision had to be made because we have an excess of foreign player. Unfortunately we had to make that decision.”
William Saliba was another absentee from the Europa League squad but Arteta said he did not expect the 19-year-old defender to go out on loan before Friday’s deadline.