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Emery: Koscielny may not play for Arsenal on Sunday

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery may not risk playing the returning Laurent Koscielny in Sunday’s Premier League match against Southampton

The French defender made his return for Arsenal in their 1-0 Europa League win over Qarabag FK on Thursday night after a seven-month absence due to Achilles tendon injury.

Koscielny managed 72 minutes of action at the Emirates Stadium before being replaced by Nacho Monreal.

Despite a lack of defensive options at his disposal right now, however, Emery suggested that he will not force Koscielny to play at Southampton this weekend.

“We are doing with him this process after the big injuries,” said Emery on Arsenal.com.

“He started training with us, playing with the under-23s, and today was another step for him, for us and we need to know tomorrow and Saturday how he is going to feel after this match. If Sunday we can [play] him on the pitch.

“When a player comes back like Koscielny, after a big injury… a very big injury, it can give the player different moments.

“I think for Koscielny it’s good that he’s recovered and I also think he recovered in a good time from his big injury.

“When he comes back like today with us, every supporter of Arsenal is happy, and also the player.

“Then this process with him is to take confidence again, take rhythm for playing matches like today.

“We are going to continue this process maybe on Sunday. I want to wait tomorrow and Saturday for how he will feel after this match, for if he will play or not on Sunday.

Rob Holding is out for the season, while Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are suspended and Konstantinos Mavropanos is yet to have a minute of competitive action this season.

Alexandre Lacazette scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal finished as Group E winners with 16 points from six games.