Mikel Arteta discusses Eddie Nketiah's condition following a "nasty injury" and plays down the possibility that Gabriel Jesus will start against Sporting

Gabriel Jesus is unlikely to start against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday with Eddie Nketiah still ‘a few weeks’ away from his return.

The Brazil international made his long-awaited return off the bench on Sunday with Arsenal cruising to a 3-0 win over Fulham, his first involvement since November.

The striker required knee surgery after picking up an injury while representing his country at the World Cup but returns in time to help the Gunners in their Premier League title bid, with that win in west London restoring their five point lead to the top.

Arsenal’s focus now switches to the Europa League, hosting Sporting on Thursday night following a 2-2 draw away in Lisbon last week in their last 16 tie.

While Arteta is pleased with Jesus’ progress, he will continue to carefully manage his minutes in the coming weeks.

‘It was great to see him back, you can feel the happiness of everyone around him, from the supporters, players, staff,’ Arteta told a press conference on Wednesday.

‘We missed him and now he is back.’

Asked if Jesus could start on Thursday, Arteta added: ‘No, we have to manage his minutes, we have to manage his involvement in the squad, in the team.

‘But he is feeling good and every day he is training and says every day, his sensations are getting better and better so that is really positive.’

Nketiah meanwhile has missed Arsenal’s last three games as a result of an ankle injury. Offering an update on the striker, Arteta revealed he is still wearing a protective boot, ruling out a return before the international break.

‘He is getting better,’ Arteta said.

‘He is still in the boot, he is still a few weeks away and we need to be patient because it was a nasty injury and he has a challenge ahead of him.

‘But thank God, it could have been worse so he#s not in a bad place.

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