Mikel Arteta explains why Joe Willock missed Arsenal friendly defeat against Hibernian

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has discussed the absence of midfielder Joe Willock from the friendly against Hibernian yesterday.

The Gunners lost 2-1 in their first outing of pre-season, and some fans may have been concerned to see Willock missing after his tremendous form on loan at Newcastle United last season.

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Willock made a huge impact in his brief time at St James’ Park, and it’s unsurprisingly led to speculation that the Magpies could now try signing him permanently.

The Times have reported on Newcastle opening talks over signing Willock, but Arteta has suggested his absence yesterday was nothing to do with that, and that he’s carrying an injury.

The Spanish tactician is quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying the 21-year-old had a slight groin issue that kept him out of contention, and fans will no doubt hope he can return soon.

“He (Willock) wasn’t involved today because he had a little groin issue,” Arteta said.

“He trained yesterday really well but we didn’t want to risk him. Joe is part of our plans, he’s our player and in the time that he is here we will try to make the most out of him.

“He had a great experience on loan. He was, I think one of the most important players for their survival.”

It seems unwise for Arsenal to be even thinking about letting Willock go amid their shortage of options in midfield, and considering just how promising he looked at Newcastle last season.

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