By Ben Dinnery

13th Jan, 2022 | 1:00pm

Medical expert: This is real reason Smith Rowe has started just one in eight for Arsenal

Emile Smith Rowe may have only been used sparingly by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta in recent weeks because of a nagging groin injury.

That is the view of injury expert Ben Dinnery, who runs the Premier Injuries site and has a background in medicine and data analysis.

Smith Rowe, a Hale End graduate and fan favourite at the Emirates, is the club’s top scorer this season with nine goals in 21 appearances.

But he has been named in the first XI just once in the last eight matches, and that came in the League Cup against third-tier Sunderland.

A groin issue meant he was not involved at all in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest last Sunday (9 January).

And Goal journalist Charles Watts reports that the playmaker is unavailable for tonight’s (13 January) League Cup semi against Liverpool.

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Dinnery suggests that his groin problem may explain why Smith Rowe has been limited to appearances off the bench of late.

“Smith Rowe had a problem with his groin,” he told Football Insider‘s Adam Williams.

“He has been hampered and carrying a slight niggle prior to Christmas.

You look at Arteta and the way he picks his squad for the FA Cup. The FA Cup provides an ideal opportunity for these players to have a little bit of a rest.

“But it also protects the manager, particularly when you consider the result against Nottingham Forest.

“Smith Rowe has been on the bench, more of an impact player in recent weeks. Maybe it’s that groin injury that has been affecting him.

Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard and Takehiro Tomiyasu are also expected to be sidelined for tonight’s rescheduled League Cup clash.

Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe meanwhile are away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

In other news, ex-Fifa official “happy and relieved” as FA decide Arsenal punishment.