Arsenal were waiting on Friday night to discover whether Kieran Tierney has been cleared to play at Manchester City on Saturday, with player and club feeling confident he will be allowed to curtail a 14-day spell of self-isolation.
The availability of Tierney would be a boost for Mikel Arteta, who said on Thursday he would be “extremely disappointed” if the defender was unable to participate at the Etihad. Tierney was required to quarantine for two weeks from last Tuesday after he was deemed to have been in close contact with Stuart Armstrong, who tested positive for Covid-19, while on international duty.
Arsenal argued robustly that Tierney, who subsequently returned negative coronavirus tests and said he had been socially distanced from Armstrong at all times, should be allowed to return to England. Initially their discussions with the Lothian Health Protection Team, the Scottish government and the Scottish FA bore little fruit, but by Friday there was fresh optimism that the situation would be resolved and Tierney is understood to have been positive about his prospects of playing.
It is understood Tierney would take a further Covid-19 test upon returning to Arsenal, and there are also no guarantees that he will start the game given that he has not trained or played over the last 10 days.
The Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who told media that Arsenal’s medical staff had informed his own club doctors of Tierney’s release, now expects Ryan Christie to receive similar dispensation for Sunday’s Old Firm derby with Rangers if the news is confirmed. Christie was also forced to self-isolate after being identified as a close contact of Tierney. “We would be very confused and want answers, that Kieran Tierney is allowed to play and Ryan has been refused to play,” Lennon said.
Reports in Scotland have suggested that Tierney tested positive for Covid-19 two months ago, which could provide him with some level of immunity and may differentiate between the cases. That has not been confirmed although Arteta did say Arsenal felt confident of his release given “the history of the player and what happened in the last few months with him as well”.