Arsenal U23 boss Freddie Ljungberg opens up on fit-again Konstantinos Mavropanos
PUBLISHED: 12:17 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:17 15 January 2019
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Arsenal U23 boss and Gunners legend Freddie Ljungberg has been speaking to the Islington Gazette about the return of Konstantinos Mavropanos.
he 21-year-old appeared in a Gunners starting XI for his first match in red and white for 163 days during the U23s emphatic 5-1 victory over Manchester CIty U23s at Meadow Park on Monday evening in Premier League 2.
The powerful Athens-born Greek U21 international played for around an hour during the youngster’s victory which included a brace from Bukayo Saka, a coolly taken penalty from Robbie Burton as well as goals from Joe Willock and Xavier Amaechi.
Speaking to the Gazette after the match Ljungberg said of Mavropanos’ appearance: “It was 100 per cent impressive. He was solid and did really well.
“I think in general we played quite well so he wasn’t under enormous pressure but what he did was very, very good and I’m happy for him.
“In the first game you come back you don’t know if he’s going to feel [the groin injury] again but he managed and there was no problem.”
Mavropanos run out was his first since August 5 and his physicality has been missed at the heart of the Gunners defence which has struggled recently including the 1-0 defeat to West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.
Calls are already growing for the tough central defender to return to Unai Emery’s squad ahead of the crucial match against Chelsea at the Emirates on Saturday.
However Arsenal Invincible Ljungberg cautioned patience when asked if Mavropanos was ready to make a return to first team action.
He added: “That’s up to the first team to decide. I try to do what they tell me to do. He had minutes to play and he played them. That’s how it is. If they think he needs to play more minutes he’ll play them, if they don’t he won’t.
“You have to remember it’s six months he hasn’t played football. I was very happy for him to get back,
“I would imagine a young player with a new manager would want to impress. He wouldn’t want to be injured first thing. Now he can show what he can do on the pitch and in training. He’s a very good football player.”
Follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29