Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta says England midfielder, Emile Smith Rowe will have to prove he can contribute to the team.
Speaking in his pre-match conference ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League round of 16 second leg tie against Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium, Arteta says Smith Rowe has to prove how much he wants to win and contribute to the team.
“He knows how much we love him and how much we miss him and how much we need his qualities. Now he needs to prove it. He needs to prove how much he wants to win and how much he’s going to contribute to this team. To be better and to win, he’s gonna have to show that to get on the team.”
Smith Rowe suffered a serious injury in September but made his return to action in February 2023, starting for Arsenal Under-21s against Chelsea.
The 22-year-old has played 137 minutes of first-team action, grabbing an assist in Arsenal’s comeback win over Bournemouth, but is yet to make a start for Mikel Arteta’s side this campaign.
The Hale End academy graduate was Arsenal’s second topscorer last season with 11 goals but has endured injury setbacks.
He sustained groin surgery in September which kept him out until January. He made his return off the bench for 15 minutes in the FA Cup win against Oxford. However, he suffered a thigh injury which kept him out for another six weeks.
READ MORE: Two players unavailable – Arsenal injury news ahead of Sporting clash
“We have to manage his load but for sure,”
Arteta on reintroducing the Arsenal No 10.
“He’s in a position where we can use him in the team at any moment. Then it’s about how he’s coping with the game in general and whether to take him off or use for the last few minutes.”
Emile Smith Rowe is facing stiff competition for a place in the squad, with Gabriel Martinelli and January signing Leandro Trossard ahead of him in the pecking order.
The midfielder has shown flashes of brilliance since returning from injury and is expected to be part of the squad to face Sporting CP in the Europa League.
His versatility means he can play in different positions in the team, with Mikel Arteta’s men five points clear of Manchester City in the race to win the Premier League title after 19 years.
Arsenal will face Sporting CP in North London following last week’s 2-2 draw in Portugal.