Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Injury fears ease for Arsenal boss

Arsene Wenger, left, and his assistant Steve Bould watch the Arsenal squad train on Tuesday

Arsenal have been handed a number of fitness boosts ahead of the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce on Wednesday evening.

The Gunners were consigned to a 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season at the weekend, but manager Arsene Wenger would have been delighted to see Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky all train on Tuesday morning.

There had been fears over the fitness of those individuals, especially full-back Sagna who landed awkwardly towards the end of the game on Saturday, but they could all play some part in Turkey as Arsenal look to seal a place in the lucrative group stages of the Champions League.

England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a certainty to miss out after suffering a serious knee injury in the defeat to Villa, with some reports suggesting the 20-year-old could be ruled out for up to six months.

Qualification to Europe's elite club competition is seen as a must for a club like Arsenal, and having as strong a squad as possible for the match at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium on Wednesday night gives Wenger's side the best chance of getting a positive result ahead of the second leg at the Emirates next Tuesday.

If Arsenal do reach the group stages there will be even more calls for new faces in north London, after a bid for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye was rejected on Monday.

The move for the France international is the latest failed transfer attempt during a frustrating summer for Wenger, who has also looked at signing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain with no success to date.

The home fans were vocal during the Villa game in their suggestions that new players are required, with Arsenal believed to have enough funds available to try and attract marquee names such as Rooney or Suarez.

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