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'You have to respect it' - Europa League bench role 'difficult' for Arsenal goalkeeper Leno

3:00 PM SGT 9/5/19
Bernd Leno Petr Cech Arsenal 2018-19
The Gunners take on Valencia in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night, with Unai Emery again expected to start with Petr Cech

Bernd Leno says it's "difficult" having to settle for a place on the Arsenal bench in the Europa League and that it would be tough to turn down the chance to play in the final, should the opportunity arise.

Arsenal take on Valencia on Thursday night in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final and will be cautiously optimistic over their chances of making the showpiece in Baku after their 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg.

Summer signing Leno, however, will have to make do with a place on the bench against the Liga outfit, with Emery having settled on Petr Cech as his preferred goalkeeper in European competition.

It’s a situation that is similar to what has been going on with Watford this season, where regular No.1 Ben Foster has had to watch from the bench while Heurelho Gomes - who, like Cech, will retire at the end of the current campaign - has helped the Hornets reach the FA Cup final.

Out of respect to the 38-year-old Brazilian, Foster has already stated that he would reject the chance to play at Wembley should boss Javi Gracia make the offer, but Leno admits he might not be so forthcoming should Emery decide to play him if the Gunners reach the Europa League final.

"It’s such a big game and everyone wants to play," he told DAZN DACH.

"I’m not sure if I would say 'I don’t want to play' because it’s an unbelievable game and everyone wants to enjoy it.

"You don’t know how many finals and how many big games you can play in your career.

"So I’m not sure if I would say no."

Leno’s first appearance for Arsenal came in the Europa League when he started the 4-2 group-stage win against Vorskla in September.

He went on to play two more group-stage games, with his last appearance coming in October when he kept a clean sheet as Emery’s side beat Sporting CP 1-0 in Lisbon.

And the German admits he's found it tough to watch from the bench as Arsenal have progressed further into the competition.

"It’s difficult because I want to play every big game and now the games are big and important," added Leno.

"But I also have to respect Petr because we push each other. Petr is a legend and still a very good goalkeeper.

"The manager decided that I’m the first choice in the Premier League and that Petr was playing in the Europa League. At the end you have to respect it.

"I have to focus on every game in the Premier League and if I’m not playing in the Europa League I am focused on the bench because you never know."