Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are still at least a week from returning to action with Arsenal, coach Unai Emery confirmed.
Spain international Bellerin twisted his knee in January and has been out ever since, while Tierney – a pre-season arrival from Celtic – has a groin injury he suffered before moving clubs.
The club confirmed on Thursday the pair had returned to full training.
But neither is ready to feature in Sunday’s trip to Watford, with Emery adamant they need a minimum of another week’s training and potentially involvement with the under-23s.
“We need to look at the next steps in each training and also if we decide to play with under-23s, maybe they can take confidence, better rhythm and then be ready to play with us at 100 per cent,” Emery said of the pair in Friday’s pre-match news conference.
“They did this week the first time training normally with us. We want the next week to take the normality training with us.
“After that week we can decide how they are to start playing with the under-23s and us [the first team].”
How much are you looking forward to seeing Hector make his return?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 13, 2019
Sunday’s match will be Watford’s first since dismissing coach Javi Gracia and reinstating former boss Quique Sanchez Flores as his replacement.
Despite the change, Emery is not anticipating huge alterations to the team from Sanchez Flores.
“They finished with Javi Gracia and did a very great season last year. Now they’ve signed a very great coach also with Quique Sanchez Flores,” Emery said.
“We [Emery and his staff] played against him in Spain, his teams are very organised. He has a good experience here in England and the Premier League with Watford. I respect him a lot.
“He is going to know the team and players. He knows some players because he trained there three years ago. He’s going to do well.
“I really respect every coach. I think now with Sanchez Flores they will continue working well like they were doing with Javi Gracia.
“We are going to respect them, prepare the match thinking about us and after respecting their characteristics.
“Their characteristics are going to be the same. They are going to push a lot with their supporters, they have very good players.”