Thomas Partey is hoping to begin limited participation in Arsenal group training this week, a step up from the individual work he has been doing to date. The Ghanaian has been out with a thigh problem since the Friday before the Fulham game in late August. Mikel Arteta confirmed that the injury was in the same area, or at least to the same leg, as the problem that forced Partey to miss the closing months of last season.
When initially discussing the injury, Mikel Arteta said the hope was Partey would be out “weeks or even shorter than that” as compared to the months on the shelf expected for Mohamed Elneny. It would seem as if Partey is ahead of schedule, although I’d assume that Arsenal will be cautious with the midfielder given his history, both with this particular, recurring injury and with coming back too quickly and getting re-injured, more generally.
Of concern is that Partey has been called into the Ghanaian national team for their upcoming friendlies. It may just be a formality where they’ve named him not expecting him to play. But Arsenal should ensure that even if he has made his return for the club, that he be kept out of international friendlies.
It doesn’t make sense, for Arsenal or for Ghana, to risk Partey in meaningless matches. The incentives are clear for Arsenal — they want to keep a key piece of their setup fit and available for the club. Ghana are in a similar situation. They want Partey available for the World Cup. If they overuse him and he picks up an injury late September or beyond that from avoidable fatigue, his fitness come mid-November when the World Cup rolls around isn’t guaranteed.