Arsenal defender Rob Holding is set to return to the first-team fold after the international break, according to football.london.
The 23-year-old has been absent for the Gunners since rupturing his ACL against Manchester United in December, but is recovering well and has started training with the club’s U23s.
The former Bolton man played 90 mins for the Gunners’ second-string against Everton last month, and is now expected to return to Unai Emery’s first-team squad for the north Londoners’ trip to Watford on September 15th.
News of Holding’s potential return will surely be welcomed, with Arsenal having shipped six goals in their opening four league matches.
The Gunners have only managed to keep one clean sheet – a 1-0 win away at Newcastle on the season’s opening weekend. They were carved apart by Liverpool a fortnight ago, losing 3-1 to the impressive Reds at Anfield, while Sunday’s north London derby saw the team torn apart by their fierce rivals for the majority of the first-half.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men went 2-0 up inside 40 minutes following some poor defending and recklessness from Granit Xhaka. The Gunners did massively improve after the break, however, but still need to strengthen things at the back if they’re to mount a serious challenge for the top four this term.
It remains to be seen whether Emery will thrust Holding straight back into the starting-eleven against Watford – should he make an expectant return after the international break – but just having him back in the matchday squad will be a boost for the Gunners.
After an unconvincing start to life at the Emirates, where the Manchester-born defender struggled for regular game-time under former boss Arsene Wenger, Holding started to look the real deal prior to his unfortunate injury at Old Trafford.
Indeed, the 23-year-old started nine consecutive league games for Emery’s side before getting injured, looking assured in the heart of the Gunners’ back-line.
David Luiz looks to be the first-choice centre-back in north London this season, having started the last three games for the club, though his defensive partner remains unclear.
So far Sokratis Papastathopoulos has lined-up next to him, but question marks remain over the Greece international’s defensive capabilities. Bearing that in mind, Holding could be the main man in defence when he returns to full fitness; hopefully for him, and Arsenal, his promising road to recovery continues.
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