Arsenal’s Partey out of Leeds clash, Arteta backs call for five substitutes

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(Reuters) – Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is unavailable for Sunday’s Premier League fixture against Leeds United as he is still recovering from a thigh injury, manager Mikel Arteta said on Friday.

Partey was substituted at halftime during Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa earlier this month with a thigh strain and did not play for Ghana during the international break.

“We knew it was a significant injury. He’s done very well and he’s working very hard, he wants to be available,” Arteta told reporters.

“Hopefully we can get him back soon but it’s an area where we need to be careful and we need to be protective with the player.”

With injuries a cause for concern for many clubs, Arteta also joined the chorus of club managers asking the Premier League to increase the number of substitutes they can use to five to reduce player fatigue.

Clubs in the English Football League (EFL) will now be permitted to make five substitutions in matches in light of the congested schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to protect (players) as much as possible, they are the protagonists in this industry,” the Spanish manager said.

“We have to modify the rules and make them a little more flexible to give them a better opportunity to be fit, physically and mentally. Let’s just do it, please.”

Arsenal are short of options in midfield with Mohamed Elneny currently isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, while there is concern about fatigue for Bukayo Saka who played three times for England in seven days.

“I have to see him today, how he’s looking and how he’s feeling. He’s a 19-year-old kid whose played a lot of football in the past few months,” Arteta said on Saka.

“I understand from (England manager) Gareth Southgate’s point of view he had the injury of (Ben) Chilwell. He probably didn’t plan to give him that many minutes but the circumstances forced him to do it.”