Mikel Arteta fears Shkodran Mustafi could be set for a long spell on the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury in Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup win at Bournemouth.
Mustafi had to be stretchered off after landed awkwardly during the victory, which earned the Gunners a trip to face Portsmouth in the fifth round.
The 27-year-old Germany defender will have scans on Tuesday to determine the extent of the problem, but Arsenal boss Arteta fears the worst after admitting the early signs were not positive.
“We’ll be assessing him between today and tomorrow but when a central defender has to come off, hopefully I’m wrong, but normally it’s not good news,” said Arteta.
With four days left of the January transfer window, Arteta insisted Mustafi’s injury would not affect Arsenal recruitment plans.
“We have a very clear intention of what we wanted to do in the market with the resources we have,” said the manager.
“If we can do it that’s fine but his fitness won’t change that.”
Homegrown youngsters Bukayo Saka, 18, and Eddie Nketiah, 20, struck to secure victory over Eddie Howe’s struggling Bournemouth.
The Cherries also saw an academy graduate score as striker Sam Surridge fired his first senior goal in added time to set up a nervy finish.
But Arsenal held on for the win, and afterwards Arteta praised young English trio Saka, Nketiah and Joe Willock.
“I’m very pleased, I knew it was going to be tough out here,” said Arteta.
“We played a really young squad today and wanted to see their reaction, and I’m very pleased.
“In the first half I think we were really, really good. I’m excited that everything we planned came together in a good way.
“They are important, the core of that team at the moment. So to play with that accountability, I really like it.
“The young players were terrific, their work-rate, and for me as well the courage to play, to make big decisions and not just play it safe.
“You look at Nketiah on the wing and then three seconds later he’s in the middle of the goal.
“He’s always in the middle of the goal to score, and the way he works off the ball is terrific.”
Premier League relegation battlers Bournemouth paid the price for a woeful opening half-hour, leaving boss Howe frustrated with their initial attitude.
Howe said: “The start was hugely disappointing. Maybe the early goal rocked us psychologically but we really struggled to deal with Arsenal in that first half an hour.
“It was all the basics really.
“Once we recovered I thought we were fine, and the better team in the second half, but it was too late.
“I don’t think we learned too much tonight because our mentality wasn’t right in the first half hour.
“And we’ll kick ourselves now because that game was there for us.”