Thomas Partey faces a race against time to be involved in Arsenal's Europa League round of 32 tie against Benfica as he works to recover from a hamstring injury. Partey was forced off in Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday with the muscular issue and whilst the Gunners are hopeful that his absence will not be a lengthy one, there remains some doubt over what role, if any, he will be able to play in the two-legged tie against the Portuguese side.
Arsenal said in a statement: "Thomas sustained a strain to his left hamstring during last Saturday's match at Aston Villa and will miss the match against Leeds United on Sunday. Thomas will continue to be assessed and rehabilitate from this injury."
The club did not set any timescale for the Ghanaian international's return to action but sources have told CBS Sports that Partey's participation in the round of 32 tie, the first leg of which takes place next Thursday (Feb. 18) in Rome with the second match a week later, remains unclear.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta would certainly be happier if he had his star midfielder to call upon but will be conscious of the risks that could come with rushing his $60 million midfielder back into the side. Partey pushed forward his return from a thigh strain for December's north London derby only to aggravate the injury as Tottenham scored the decisive goal in a 2-0 win.
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Between the two ties Arsenal face Manchester City in the Premier League but the game against Leeds on Sunday will come too soon for Partey as it will for Kieran Tierney, absent since Jan. 18 when he played the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United.
"Kieran is recovering well from a strain to the right lower leg and is aiming to integrate back into training next week," Arsenal said. Arteta will, however, be able to call upon Bernd Leno and David Luiz once more this weekend after they served their one-game suspensions for red cards in a 2-1 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers.