Arsenal handed a huge Champions League boost as menacing opponent set for lengthy injury lay-off

Olympique Lyonnais are likely to be without star striker Ada Hegerberg when they host Arsenal in the UEFA Women’s Champions League later this month.

Drawn into a ‘group of death’, the Gunners will have to fight the holders Lyon, Serie A champions Juventus and FC Zurich for a place in the knockout stage in the competition.

Only two sides will go through, and Arsenal’s bid to progress begins with a visit to the eight-time champions Lyon on Wednesday October 19.

But there’s a good chance that the scale of the challenge will be significantly reduced for Jonas Eidevall’s side by the absence of key Lyon player Hederberg who, with more than 50 goals to her name, is the competition’s all-time top scorer.

The Norwegian striker has not made a return to the pitch since she came off injured during a World Cup qualifier against Belgium at the start of September, having taken an impact to her left leg, which was operated on for a stress fracture two years ago.

In an official club statement, Lyon provided an update on her condition on Tuesday: “The international striker, who has already begun a specific and adapted treatment protocol, will have to observe a period of unavailability of several weeks.

“A first assessment will soon be carried out by the OL medical department in order to envisage a gradual return of Ada to the professional group.

“Olympique Lyonnais will remain attentive to Ada's state of health and, in agreement with the player and the technical staff, will take the time to do everything possible to ensure the best medical follow-up so that the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner can regain her full fitness in view of the important events to come and the busy schedule of this season.”

Lyon will also be without US women’s national team midfielder Catarina Macario, who is currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament rupture.

Meanwhile, Eidevall has his own injuries to contend with as both of his first-choice centre-backs are facing a spell on the sidelines.

Brazil international Rafaelle is out for several weeks with a metatarsal fracture, while England captain Leah Williamson was seen with crutches and a protective boot after she pulled out of Lionesses duty this week, with the FA yet to offer more detail on the defender’s condition.