Arsenal star a doubt for Norwich clash after missing international with illness

Emile Smith Rowe is a doubt for Arsenal’s crucial Premier League match against Norwich on Saturday after the attacking midfielder was forced to miss England Under-21’s European Championship qualifier against Kosovo on Tuesday night due to illness. 

It is understood that Smith Rowe’s absence is not linked to Covid-19, but with only four days to go until the match against the Canaries, the youngster is facing a race against time to recover.

The 21-year-old was expected to start for new England boss Lee Carsley, but the former Everton midfielder was forced to pick Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher and Manchester United’s James Garner in his absence. 

Smith Rowe has played every minute of every match for the Gunners in their opening three Premier league matches, in a campaign that is yet to get going following defeats to newly-promoted Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City. 

Despite Arsenal signing Martin Odegaard on a permanent transfer from Real Madrid this summer, it is understood that Arteta still rates the Englishman as one his team’s key players.

Speaking last week, Paul Merson believes that the Arsenal boss has let down Smith Rowe by signing the Norwegian international. 

‘What sort of message does signing Odegaard send to Emile Smith Rowe?’ Merson said. 

‘I can see why he held out signing a new contract. When Odegaard came on loan he ended up playing out on the wing. But Emile Smith Rowe is a No. 10. He’s the future at Arsenal. He came through the ranks and he makes things happen.

‘He is the one who is going to suffer most from them buying Odegaard. What really is the difference between them anyway? I think they are too similar. But I know who’s not getting picked if it starts going wrong and it won’t be the £30m new signing.

‘I know they both played in the same team last season but it was a problem. Smith Rowe didn’t look comfortable on the wing. It’s like making a centre-back play at right-back. However hard you try, sooner or later you’re going to get dropped.’

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