Arsenal have been left sweating over the fitness of starlet Gabriel Martinelli, after the striker injured his ankle during the Gunners’ FA Cup third round warm-up against Newcastle United.
The 19-year-old was originally named in Mikel Arteta’s starting lineup to face the Magpies, with the Brazilian set to return to action after sitting on the bench in the recent victory against West Bromwich Albion.
However, Martinelli’s name was deleted from Arsenal team profile and replaced by that of Reiss Nelson, after being forced to seek treatment for an injury sustained during the warm-up.
He was in the middle of a “Rondo” training exercise, chasing the ball, when he lost his balance and rolled over on his ankle. Martinelli went to the ground immediately, signaling for help and looking in severe discomfort.
This will be a heavy blow to both the player and the supporters, immediately putting the brakes on the occasion.
The Gunners have enjoyed an impressive return to form in recent games, thanks in large part to Arteta’s willingness to trust his generation of exciting young starlets. Martinelli is one of the few players to come into the fold and thrive during the winter months, having played in both wins against Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Saturday’s FA Cup third round match against Newcastle would have provided a perfect opportunity for the forward to really claim a regular starting spot on the front row of Arsenal, who have stammered and missed numerous times this season.
Martinelli is highly regarded by the fans, and the news of his injury will cause great concern across the fan base, given his fitness issues at the start of the season. He only made the Arsenal squad in mid-December, missing much of the campaign due to a knee injury he sustained during a training session in June.