Walcott fit again as Wenger keeps one eye on derby

LONDON • Theo Walcott trained with the Arsenal squad at the English football club's London Colney training ground yesterday, but there are doubts over whether he will be fit to play against Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League today.

The England forward missed the 4-1 Premier League win at Sunderland on Saturday with a hamstring problem.

He was put through his paces by Arsenal's fitness coach Tony Colbert yesterday, before the team's trip to Bulgaria, reported the Evening Standard.

But it remains to be seen if manager Arsene Wenger will risk him against Ludogorets or keep him for the north London derby against Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Midfielder Santi Cazorla, who has been out for two weeks with an Achilles injury, and Nacho Monreal, who missed the Sunderland game with a muscular problem, were seen at training yesterday.

In Monreal's absence, Kieran Gibbs will continue at left-back as Arsenal try to seal a place in the last 16 of the Champions League for the 17th consecutive year.

A win against the Bulgarian champions would all but secure qualification to the knockout stage with two group games to spare.

Wenger will be keen to continue his team's momentum - they are unbeaten in their last 14 games in all competitions - but is likely to rest a number of players with one eye on the north London derby.

Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey returned from injury in the weekend win over Sunderland and could feature as the French manager will be keen to give them game time to build match fitness.

Granit Xhaka is certain to start after missing the League Cup and Premier League games owing to a three-game domestic ban.

Ludogorets, who lost the reverse fixture 6-0 at the Emirates a fortnight ago, will be looking to keep their hopes alive with what would arguably be the biggest win in their history.

Manager Georgi Dermendzhiev has named the same starting XI in all of their matches in this season's competition and is likely to keep changes to a minimum again.

Romanian forward Claudiu Keseru could start after scoring a hat-trick in the 5-3 victory over Dunav Ruse on Friday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2016, with the headline 'Walcott fit again as Wenger keeps one eye on derby'. Print Edition | Subscribe