Koscielny closing in on Arsenal return

Arsenal boss Unai Emery hopes to have Laurent Koscielny available for selection following the upcoming international break.

Arsenal and France defender Laurent Koscielny   -  Getty Images

Laurent Koscielny is close to handing Arsenal a defensive boost after missing the first three months of the 2018-19 campaign.

The former France international has been sidelined with an Achilles rupture that required surgery since May, the central defender missing his country's World Cup triumph at Russia 2018 as a result.

Unai Emery has slowly reintegrated the 33-year-old, who last featured for the Gunners in a Europa League clash with Atletico Madrid on May 3, into training and the Spaniard says that Koscielny is almost ready to be considered for selection.

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"He feels better in each training [session]. He is closer to being with us for competitive games," Emery told a media conference ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with Sporting CP.

"We are happy with him, he is with us every day and we are going to think after the international break how we continue working and playing games."

Koscielny's improvement does not help Emery for the upcoming European clash, though, with fellow defenders Konstantinos Mavropanos, Nacho Monreal and Sokratis Papastathopoulos also unlikely to feature on Thursday.

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"At the moment we continue to have injuries for Mavropanos and Koscielny. Nacho, we are taking precautions with," Emery added.

"We don't want to repeat the same injury, he is starting to train but not doing all with us. He is injured for [against Sporting]."

Arsenal leads Group E after three wins out of three, including a 1-0 win over Sporting last time out, but Emery is keen for his side to remained focused despite having one foot in the knockout stages.

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"They [Sporting] have very good players. They changed the coach but it's a very big match for them in their thinking about getting the first position," said Emery.

"We will go into the game with big respect for them. This competition is very important for us, it is a title and one way into the Champions League next year."

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