Arsenal: Just what should be expected of Kieran Tierney?

Arsenal, Kieran Tierney (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Kieran Tierney (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

Upon the return of football following the coronavirus suspension, Kieran Tierney should be fully fit. But what can be expected of the left-back who has only played a handful of matches for Arsenal?

When Arsenal signed Kieran Tierney last summer, many praised the deal as one of the smarter transfers they made. The splash signings of Nicolas Pepe and a £25 million teenager may have grabbed the headlines — acquiring a pale Scotsman who tucks his shirt in and plays the position that is often the butt of the joke is not exactly flashy. However, the Tierney move was widely praised for its efficiency and dependability.

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There was just one initial problem: injury.

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Tierney arrived in north London after undergoing a sports hernia operation. He missed the opening two months of the season and took several weeks to reach full fitness by the time he did take to the pitch. He the made only 11 appearances in all competitions, of which only five came in the Premier League. He played a total of 743 minutes before injury struck again.

In December’s 3-1 victory over West Ham United, Tierney dislocated his shoulder. He actually dislocated his shoulder three times in the first 30 minutes of the match and was eventually withdrawn. He immediately underwent and has not played for the club since. He only returned to full training days before the coronavirus postponed play, again stenting his ability to get match-fit.

This week, Tierney spoke about the mental struggles he has suffered because of his injury problems:

"“Being injured at the start of my Arsenal career was hard. Mentally, it was probably the toughest time of my life. Keeping myself motivated and energised, for me, is quite easy because I’ve got great people around me. I’ve got my family, my friends and everybody I need. I will go work hard every single day for myself, for the club, for my family. The mental side of the game is probably the most important. Everybody loves going out and playing football but to be mentally tough and deal with all these obstacles and people throw at you, it’s the hardest part. But when you get to the other side, it’s the most rewarding.”"

So, if and when football does return, it is fair to ask what can be expected of Tierney. He is said to be extremely fit, having worked tremendously hard during his rehabilitation. Because of the nature of the injury, he was able to do a lot of running but could not do any contact work, so in theory, as soon as his shoulder can handle physical contact, it should not take him long to get back to peak sharpness.

On the other hand, Tierney has played just a handful of games over the past year and might a face six-month gap in which he has not played a single match. For all of the running you might do on the training ground, nothing prepares you for the intensity of a competitive match, especially at the Premier League level.

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It is difficult to say just what Tierney will appear the other side of the coronavirus postponement. But make no mistake, he will be eager to impress as this, in essence, will be his first run out for the club.