Friday, December 8, 2023

Injury doubts – Is Martin Odegaard ready for Arsenal and Norway?

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Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard has overcome an injury scare to join up with the Norway national team for their upcoming UEFA Nations League fixtures against Slovenia and Serbia.

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard has received the all-clear on a scan regarding his calf injury and is due to train with the Norway national team, manager Stale Solbakken has confirmed.

After missing the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Brentford last weekend, there had been some concern with regards to the midfielder’s availability for Norway’s UEFA Nations League fixtures against Slovenia and Serbia during the international break as well as the North London Derby vs Tottenham at the beginning of October.

Speaking earlier in the week, Solbakken confirmed he was in regular contact with Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta. Furthermore, he revealed that he expected Odegaard to join up with the squad in some capacity – whether that be “either as a player or a fourth coach” – given the importance of the 23-year-old.

And the good news is that the Gunners have now released Odegaard for international duty and Solbakken has confirmed to TV2 that his captain can take part in a training session on Thursday afternoon: “He is involved in training from the start, and then we will see how it goes.

“The scan is fine, he passed a good test. He starts training, in the same way as the others. We don’t have anyone who can just step in and replace Martin. Not many others have either. He is a central piece, both on and off the pitch. It’s good for me, it’s good for the boys, it’s good for him and it’s good for you.”

Interestingly, Solbakken has already revealed that he was waiting to hear back from Arsenal regarding getting a final decision on whether Odegaard could feature in one or both of Norway’s fixtures during the international break.

Thanks to the UEFA Nations League permutations, that decision could be made easier come Saturday night. As things stand, ‘Norway will be promoted to League A if they win and Serbia do not beat Sweden, or if Norway draw and Serbia lose. Norway cannot be relegated’.

The incentive for Norway to win their group and earn promotion to League A is that it will boost their chances of playing at the 2024 European Championships. Even though they can still book their place in the finals via qualification, they’ll be assured of a play-off place by being successful in the Nations League.

With that in mind, this hands the north London outfit a chance to reach a compromise with Norway for Odegaard to perhaps only feature in one of the games – preferably this weekend’s game in Slovenia as their fate could very well be decided as early as Saturday if the results go in their favour.

Of course, the perfect scenario for all parties is that Odegaard plays and Norway beat Slovenia whilst Serbia fail to win against Sweden. Solbakken’s side would secure promotion to League A and a Euro 2024 play-off place with a game to spare so the Arsenal captain won’t need to be risked for what would be a dead-rubber against Serbia three days later.

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