Hector Bellerin could miss Hull’s visit to the Emirates on Saturday after suffering a concussion during the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea.
The right-back took a heavy blow to the head as Marcus Alonso used a wayward elbow to gain leverage to head the Blues in front in the first half.
After landing heavily, Bellerin was left dazed and confused – thankfully, not unconscious – and received prolonged treatment from the medical team before being substituted.
Wenger said of the incident afterwards: “It was 100 per cent a foul. It was even dangerous play. Bellerin was concussed. Not completely knocked out. He didn’t know the score at the time. He didn’t see the goal.”
The FA and Premier League have clear ‘return to play’ guidelines for players who are suspected to have suffered a concussion; in essence making clear that no return to action should be made for at least six days (in an enhanced care setting) and only once a six-stage protocol has been fulfilled.
It is understood that Bellerin is not training at the moment but could, depending on his situation, return to London Colney on Friday.
“The graduated return to play (GRTP) protocol should be followed in all cases. This staged programme commences at midnight on the day of injury and stage 1 (initial rest period) is 14 days in all players unless they are in an enhanced care setting. In all cases, progression to stage 2 of the GRTP can only occur if the player has no symptoms.
It continues: “Under the GRTP Protocol, the individual can advance to the next stage only if there are no symptoms of concussion at rest and at the level of physical activity achieved in the current GRTP stage. If any symptoms occur while going through the GRTP program, the individual must return to the previous stage and attempt to progress again after a minimum 24-hour period of rest without symptoms (this is 48 hours in players under 19 years of age).”
Given all of the above, it seems unlikely that Arsenal’s medical staff will take a risk on throwing the Spaniard back into the fray. Gabriel is likely to deputise, with Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles other options to play in the full-back position.
If you have any doubts about the seriousness of concussion injuries, here’s Luke Griggs from Headway Brain Injury Association, speaking to Sky Sports last year.
“Concussion is a temporary disturbance of the brain’s functioning,” he said.
“If you continue to play after you’ve had a concussion and you suffer a secondary knock, that secondary knock can significantly exacerbate the damage to the brain and cause real problems.
“One of the issues we have with concussion is it tends to be an evolving injury, where the signs and symptoms may take some time to present themselves.
“You could be playing on without necessarily showing any of those signs, especially the more visible ones, such as loss of balance or vomiting or loss of consciousness. Only in around 10 per cent of concussions is there a loss of consciousness. Looking out for that one key indicator is not a sensible way to go.
“It’s very important to protect someone while their brain is recovering from that initial, minor traumatic brain injury, to sit it out, rest and recover before going back into the field of play.”