By Nick Teale

Manuel Almunia has described Cesc Fabregas as 'the spirit of this team' but insists that the Arsenal squad are confident of overcoming Porto without their captain.

The midfielder has a hamstring problem and has been ruled out of Tuesday night's clash as the Gunners attempt to turn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in their favour at Emirates Stadium.

In Cesc's absence Manuel Almunia is likely to captain the team and the keeper was full of praise for Fabregas at a pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon.

"Cesc is the spirit of this team," he said. "He is our captain, he is a fantastic player and every time he is not on the pitch we miss him a lot. He will be a big loss but I think that all the players are convinced and 100 per cent committed to getting through the game."

A finger injury meant that Almunia was unable to take part in the first-leg at Estadio do Dragao but the keeper says the team are feeling confident ahead of Tuesday night's second-leg.

"Unfortunately I missed the first-leg against Porto," said the keeper. "I was very disappointed not to play in the game. We had a bad result but we only need 1-0. But of course it will be a problem if we concede a goal.

"Everybody feels good about this game and we have the confidence to get the goals early in the match but our priority will be to maintain the clean sheet."

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8 Mar 2010