LONDON — Arsenal fear Danny Welbeck has broken his ankle, Unai Emery confirmed, as the England striker looks set for another lengthy injury layoff.
Welbeck was carried off the pitch with an oxygen mask over his face after landing awkwardly and collapsing in pain 25 minutes into Thursday’s 0-0 draw against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.
The striker was in severe pain as he writhed on the ground and immediately called for the Arsenal medical staff, who also put his leg in a brace before he was carried off.
Images showed Welbeck’s right ankle bent at an unnatural angle. He was taken to a hospital immediately after, with Emery saying he thinks it’s a fracture.
Mesut Ozil, who was rested for Thursday’s game, took to Twitter soon after the incident to wish his teammate well, saying: “Oh no … get well soon Danny.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) November 8, 2018
Matteo Guendouzi sent a message of support to Welbeck following the match.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 9, 2018
Welbeck’s Arsenal teammates looked visibly distressed as they watched the forward getting treated and took turns shaking his hand as he was carried off the pitch.
“The worst news tonight is this injury. We think it’s a serious injury,” Emery told a news conference. “He breaks something in his ankle. … He’s in the hospital, and the news is, at the moment we are going to wait [before giving an exact assessment].”
And Emery admitted that the incident affected the team’s mindset as they struggled to create any clear-cut chances in a drab draw, which still ensured their advancement to the knockout round.
“His injury also [impacted] the mentality of the players, because they looked and saw it’s a big injury. But when you [are] playing football in competitive matches, it can happen. We don’t want [to see it], but this is our profession,” he said.
“When a player gets an injury like that and every player on the pitch looks at that injury, the first thing in your mind is to think about the player. But then I think the players were concentrated on the match, and we forgot from the next minute about this injury. But after the match, the first [thought] is to ask about him.”
Stephan Lichtsteiner also limped off with a hamstring problem in the second half, and Emery said the right-back will be assessed to determine the severity of the injury.
Welbeck has already suffered two long-term knee injuries since joining Arsenal in 2014, missing a majority of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. But he had been in great scoring form this campaign, netting five goals in all competitions despite limited playing time.
England manager Gareth Southgate included Welbeck in his squad earlier in the day for an upcoming friendly against the United States and a Nations League tie against Croatia days later.
Welbeck’s Arsenal contract expires next summer and he has yet to be offered a new deal by the club. But Emery evaded a direct question on whether the injury would affect his chances of a new deal.
“The best thing for him now is to think about the person. He is a very good person, his commitment for us is very big. He helps us with his behaviour and his quality and his capacity, and this injury is a very big injury for him, for us and for all people who love him as a person.”
Information from Reuters was used in this report.