Wenger allays Arshavin injury fears

LONDON - Arsene Wenger's injury headache worsened on Friday after Arsenal defender William Gallas was ruled out for the season, but there was better news on Russian forward Andrei Arshavin.

A day after Arsenal revealed captain Cesc Fabregas's season was ended by a broken leg, the Premier League side's title tilt took a fresh hit after Gallas was sidelined with a calf injury that has troubled him since February.

"Gallas is (out for) longer than three weeks, I would say personally five weeks for Gallas," Wenger told reporters, effectively ruling him out of the domestic season.

The international defender now faces an anxious wait after France coach Raymond Domenech said on Friday players not fit by May 18 will not be involved in the World Cup in South Africa.

Gallas was one of five players injured in Tuesday's 2-2 Champions League quarter-final first-leg draw with Barcelona on what could prove to be a damaging night for the London club.

Arsenal have since learned that Fabregas broke his leg following a last-ditch tackle by Carles Puyol, while forward Arshavin limped off with a calf problem.

Defender Gael Clichy and midfielder Denilson also picked up knocks and face late fitness tests ahead of Arsenal's league match at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Wenger's third-placed side trail league leaders Manchester United by four points with six matches remaining and his wounded squad also face a Champions League second leg trip to the Nou Camp as they bid to reach a second final in four years.

"We want to focus on our targets and still achieve them," Wenger said.


Earlier on Friday, Arshavin had told Sport Express newspaper that he feared his injury is more serious than first diagnosed.

"I think I have torn it (calf muscle). If that's true, then I'll be out for a long time, at best after three weeks but at worst I won't play at all this season."

Wenger was more optimistic of the Russian international's chances.

"21 days minimum, by April 23 he should be clear to play again."

British media reports suggested that Spanish midfielder Fabregas, who has been in sparkling form this season scoring 19 goals, may have started the Barca match with a broken bone, but the club denied this.

"We believe that it (the leg break) is from the kick from Puyol which led to the penalty," Wenger said before adding that Fabregas had undergone a scan before the match kicked off.

"There is some suggestion that he played with a broken bone already, that is not true... a bruised bone, but not a broken one before the game."

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