Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal fans will not have to wait until next season to see Thomas Partey at his best.
The midfielder will miss Sunday's clash against Leeds United after picking up a hamstring injury in last weekend's defeat to Aston Villa.
And the 27-year-old is also a doubt for crucial games next week against Europa League opponents Benfica and Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Partey has made just 12 appearances for Arsenal since his £45million move from Atletico Madrid in the summer transfer window, having been hampered by injury problems.
He missed nine games in a row in all competitions with an injury he sustained in December, only returning in the middle of January.
But Gunners boss Arteta is confident Partey can show how good he really is during the current campaign – despite the fact he is back on the treatment table.
Asked if supporters would have to wait until next season to see the Ghana international at his best, Arteta said: “Hopefully no. Hopefully we can still see Thomas back and playing at the level he can do.
“Last time we gave him more time to recover and he came back in good shape, but he was not fit enough to sustain that for 90 minutes.
“That is why we kept subbing him and trying to protect him. I think he has played 90 only once since coming back from injury.
“Now we have to protect him, make sure that he is fit and ready to come back as soon as possible – but knowing that we need the player long term as well.”
Arteta reckons Partey's price tag could be adding extra pressure as he tries to impress amid his ongoing injury struggles.
“He knows how much he cost and that adds a bit of pressure,” said the manager.
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“When you are not able to play you want to hurry up and do everything quicker, and show everybody how good you are and have a big impact on the team.
“That creates some anxiety for sure. Then the physical aspect, when you look at the outputs he needs to put in when he was playing in Spain or now, are pretty different.”
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