Blow for Arsenal as Smith Rowe forced out of Qarabag clash

The teenager has thrived in the Europa League for the Gunners this season but faces two weeks on the sidelines after picking up an injury in training

Arsenal starlet Emile Smith Rowe will miss Thursday’s Europa League tie against Qarabag after suffering a minor groin strain in training.

The 18-year-old has been one of the stars of the Gunners’ European campaign this season, having scored his first two senior goals away to Qarabag and Vorskla Poltova, with Unai Emery’s side already assured of top spot in Group E.

But Goal understands Smith Rowe did not train with the Arsenal squad ahead of the Qarabag clash at the Emirates Stadium and is expected to be on the sidelines for another two weeks in order for him to fully recover.

That means he will also miss Wednesday’s clash with Tottenham in the Carabao Cup – a competition in which Smith Rowe has featured regularly this season.

He is yet to make a real impact on Emery’s team in the Premier League, however, having only been named on the bench on three occasions thus far.

Gunners head coach Emery, who has previously labelled Smith Rowe an ‘inspiration’ to the club’s other youngsters, also confirmed that captain Laurent Koscielny will make his long-awaited return from injury against the Azerbaijani side.

“Our first mind in this competition is to be first in the group – which we have done,” Emery told reporters on Wednesday. 

“But we respect this competition and Qarabag. [On Thursday] our objective is to win, we will give a players chance to take responsibility and confidence. 

“We are going to use the match with some different players, with some coming from Under-23s. We also start to play with Laurent Koscielny.”

Seven youngsters trained with the first team at London Colney before the game in north London, including Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Zech Medley, Charlie Gilmour, Tyreece John-Jules, Bukayo Saka and Dominic Thompson.

Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil is expected to start after returning to training following a back problem, while Petr Cech looks likely to start in goal.

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