By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger is an eternal optimist so he is hopeful Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb and Gael Clichy will be back for Saturday's trip to Aston Villa.

Realistically there are major question marks over all three, especially the Spanish midfielder who injured his hamstring against Sevilla on Tuesday.

Fabregas is likely to face a fitness test on Friday but Wenger admitted his medical experts did not share his hopes. Meanwhile Clichy (thigh) and Hleb (hamstring) were described as having "a slight chance". Mathieu Flamini is back but Robin van Persie (knee) is still absent.

"I don't know how long it will be for Cesc," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online on Thursday afternoon. "We hope it will be very, very, very short maybe he'll even be OK for Saturday. But the medical staff are not optimistic about that. The worst case for him realistically is 10 days.

"We have a slight chance to get Gael Clichy and Alexander Hleb back. Mathieu Flamini will be available. Of course Van Persie is still out."

Arsenal TV Online subscribers will be able to watch the full video interview on Friday morning. In it, Arsène Wenger talks about: the defeat to Sevilla, the final game against Steaua, the test of responding at Villa, Martin O'Neill's revival at Villa Park, John Carew - a nemesis for Arsenal in previous games.

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Richard Clarke 29 Nov 2007