GRANIT XHAKA has told Eddie Nketiah he has a major role to play in Arsenal’s push for the Premier League title — after Gabriel Jesus underwent knee surgery.
Arsenal midfielder Xhaka is linking up immediately with his Gunners team-mates in Dubai as his Switzerland side were sent packing from the World Cup with a 6-1 hammering by Portugal on Tuesday night.
Granit Xhaka has spoken to Gabriel Jesus and says the whole Arsenal squad wishes him well
Xhaka is backing Eddie Nketiah to step up in Jesus’ absence
And Xhaka confirmed suspicions that Brazil striker Jesus, 25, will be out for two to three months after injuring his right knee in his nation’s final group game against Cameroon.
That came as a major blow to Arsenal, who are five points clear at the top, but who only have the inexperienced Nketiah, 23, as a back-up striker.
Swiss skipper Xhaka said: “I spoke with Gabi straight after the Cameroon game.
“We have contact between each other, with all the players who’ve been here in the World Cup.
“It’s a shame because you saw in the first half of the Premier League season how important he is for us.
“I don’t know exactly how big the injury is, maybe two or three months, I think.
“But he is a strong guy. We will support him.
“He knows that we are behind him and, hopefully, we can get him back as quickly as possible.
“We have to cope without him. We have no different option.
“We have the option with Eddie, of course. He’s had great games as well in the past.
“We need to support Eddie as well because he will be a big, big part of the next two or three months.
“But I am looking forward, because we have the quality to bring Eddie there and to help him.”
Xhaka, 30, admitted he wants to forget about the World Cup after Switzerland’s last-16 trouncing — so will join up with Mikel Arteta’s men who are playing friendlies and training in neighbouring Dubai to prepare for the Premier League restart on Boxing Day.
He said: “Emotionally it is not easy but this is part of our business, part of football.
“You have to recover well. The Premier League is waiting and, of course, I wanted to be here in Qatar longer than this.
“But we lost and I’m happy to go back now with my club.
“I have something to achieve there — and I know the team is in Dubai at the moment doing the pre-season.
“I’m flying back to Dubai, going back to the team, and going back to training and trying to forget the tournament.
“We have bad emotions in the Switzerland team.
“We wanted to achieve something special for our country. We didn’t.
“We had a plan. But if you concede two goals from set-pieces, it’s very hard to come back against a team like Portugal.
“The first goal we conceded was from a throw-in. The second was after a corner.
“You can’t win games like this.”