ARSENAL winger Nicolas Pepe has withdrawn from the Ivory Coast squad to work on his fitness after reports emerged that he was carrying an injury.
The club’s record signing has endured a baptism of fire in his first two starts for the Gunners, the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool followed by the draw against Tottenham.
He did manage to play the full 90minutes in last weekend’s 2-2 North London derby draw, even claiming an assist for Alexandre Lacazette’s strike.
Although Arsenal didn’t list him as one of the players who had gone away on international duty on their website, he linked up with Ivory Coast’s squad in Deauville, north west France.
A statement from the Ivory Coast FA then revealed that: “Nicolas Pepe, injured in (his) club, came to report his injury on Wednesday late afternoon.”
The 23-year-old is now set to return to London Colney to work on his fitness ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Watford on September 15.
But it is understood Pepe is not carrying a knock, and both Arsenal and the Ivorian federation agreed it was best that he did not feature in the coming friendlies against Benin and Tunisia.
The former Lille star did not enjoy a full pre-season with his new club this summer following his exploits at the African Cup of Nations, where the Elephants reached the quarter-finals.
Pepe is part of an Arsenal squad who were crowned the youngest in the Premier League with an average age of 25.1.
They are closely followed by Wolves and Southampton, while Chelsea, United and Arsenal’s bitter rivals Spurs make up the top six.
Arsenal were the better side in the derby draw at the Emirates on Sunday and 20-year-old Matteo Guendouzi shone with an assured performance and an assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half equaliser.