Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck will have his mentality tested as he faces the prospect of another lengthy injury lay-off.
England international Welbeck had his Euro 2016 dreams left in tatters when he suffered a knee injury during last weekend’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Manchester City.
The 25-year-old underwent surgery this week due to “significant cartilage damage” and will be sidelined for around nine months.
Welbeck only returned in February from a similarly lengthy absence due to an injury to his left knee and Gunners boss Wenger feels the former Manchester United star’s latest setback will be tough to stomach.
“Will it cause some psychological damage in his commitment? I don’t know,” Wenger said.
“It certainly will take him some time to get back to feeling free.
“He’s a player who is explosive and committed. He’ll certainly need to get over a psychological hurdle when he comes back.
“I don’t think that physically he will suffer.
“The first period is the worst one. In Danny’s case I believe it will be 12 weeks on crutches.
“Once the player can work again and feels it’s going upwards then you have done the job, but the first period is very depressing.”
Welbeck is the latest member of Wenger’s playing staff to be hit by long-term fitness problems.
England colleague Jack Wilshere has pledged not to change his playing style despite missing the majority of the season with a fractured ankle, while Aaron Ramsey and former team-mate Abou Diaby had different responses to their own lengthy absences.
“You have different types of players,” Wenger explained. “I had the experience with Diaby, he would always come back after a year out and in the first training session you had to tell him ‘be cautious.’
“And with some others, there’s longer-term damage [mentally]. Ramsey, it took him a while, yes.
“Most of the time, what you avoid is the specific position in which you have been injured. Players they go in completely normally committed, but when they get into that position, it’s like an alert in the brain that says ‘don’t do that.'”