Nicolas Pepe leaves Ivory Coast camp to make early return to Arsenal
(Photo by Visionhaus)

Nicolas Pepe leaves Ivory Coast camp to make early return to Arsenal

Withdrawal not the result of injury; player places full focus on Gunners

dave-comerford
David Comerford

Nicolas Pepe will spend the remainder of the international break working on his fitness in North London after agreeing to leave the Ivory Coast camp prior to their upcoming friendlies.

Pepe was due to represent his country in their friendlies against Benin on Friday and Tunisia on Tuesday.

But a mutual decision has been taken to allow Pepe to focus on his club commitments for the moment.

He is not struggling with an injury, instead looking to build his fitness after the Africa Cup of Nations disrupted his pre-season. 

Pepe looks to build on flashes of promise

The forward has started Arsenal's last two games after a pair of substitute appearances against Newcastle United and Burnley.

Pepe has thus far only shown glimpses of the talent which persuaded the Gunners to shell out a record fee of £72million.

He earned praise for his encouraging performance in the 3-1 defeat at Anfield, and came to opening his account in last weekend's North London Derby draw.

He is looking to truly make his mark when the action resumes, with Arsenal facing another five matches before the end of September as they begin their Europa League and Carabao Cup campaigns.

This latest development is positive for Unai Emery, who would have feared that an injury might halt his progress.

Which other Gunners are on international duty?

The list of senior players called-up includes Bernd Leno (Germany), Sokratis (Greece), Sead Kolasinac (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Dani Ceballos (Spain), Matteo Guendouzi (France), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland) and Lucas Torreira (Uruguay).

However, there are also a number of key players who will enjoy a rest, such as David Luiz, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, all of whom were not selected, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has no international matches scheduled until November.

Arsenal remain without Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding, but Emery will hope to have an otherwise full complement for the trip to Watford on September 15. 

VAVEL Logo