Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said Alexis Sanchez is “always OK” as he weighs up whether to play the striker at Manchester United on Saturday.
Wenger knows Sanchez will insist on playing at Old Trafford despite suffering a minor hamstring strain while playing for Chile during the international break.
But he played and scored twice in a 3-1 win over Uruguay on Tuesday, and later texted Arsenal staff to say he was fine.
“He is always OK,” Wenger joked. “It is a very difficult one because I am sure he will come back saying he is all right.”
Earlier on Thursday, Wenger had said “you depend a lot on the honesty of a player” when deciding whether he can play.
Last season, he played Sanchez in a draw at Norwich — despite saying before the game that he had suffered a “hamstring alarm” — and saw him limp off with an injury that ruled him out for two months.
The manager, who will watch a video of the Chile-Uruguay game on Thursday to study the forward’s movement, said: “I know him so well, like all my players that I observe every day, so I will be able to see if he was playing with a restriction or not.
“But the [second] goal he scored he ran from the halfway line and resists [two defenders] — if you are really injured with a hamstring you cannot do that.”
Sanchez also told Chile’s Latercera he was ready to play despite also facing a long flight back to London on Thursday.
“I will train Friday and travel the same day to Manchester to play Saturday at noon,” he was quoted as saying. “There is no problem with me playing.”
Arsenal are without right-back Hector Bellerin for four weeks with an ankle injury, while Santi Cazorla remains sidelined with an Achilles problem.
Wenger has several options at right-back, but indicated that he is more likely to use backup Carl Jenkinson than move central defender Shkodran Mustafi out wide.
Mustafi has formed a strong partnership with Laurent Koscielny since his move from Valencia in August, and Wenger said: “Our central defence is working well. To upset one position to put a player in another position where you are not even sure that he will do well?
“Let’s first keep a strong position where we are, and see if we can find a player who can come in in another position. We do not want to destroy two positions.”
Wenger said the Gunners were close to agreeing a new contract with Bellerin, adding: “We are working on that, and we are not far.”