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Arsenal head coach Unai Emery admits he may be forced to add a central defender to his January shopping list.
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and Eric Bailly of Manchester United are among the centre-backs being linked with the Gunners, who have major injury problems.
They look like heading to Southampton on Sunday with only one recognised fit defender in recently returned Laurent Koscielny.
The club captain has been missing since May with a serious Achilles injury, although Emery has revealed the 33-year-old is due to start Thursday’s Europa League dead-rubber at home to Qarabag.
The hope will be Koscielny can come through that and then take his place in the defence at St Mary’s, with Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding injured, Shkodran Mustafi struggling with a hamstring problem and Sokratis Papastathopoulos suspended.
With so many dilemmas at the back, Emery looks set to have to play a full-back out of position, with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Nacho Monreal capable of filling in.
But he also conceded the club could look into recruiting a defender when the transfer window opens.