Alex Hleb and Mathieu Flamini have been ruled out of the trip to Newcastle on Wednesday.

The Arsenal squad left for Tyneside on Tuesday without FOUR international midfielders. Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby missed the 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday with hamstring and back injuries respectively. They will not be returning at St James' Park.

And during that morale-boosting victory in Birmingham, Hleb collected a hamstring problem while Flamini fell victim to a recurrence of his thigh injury. Arsène Wenger will bolster his midfield by adding Denilson to his squad. He also has options in Lassana Diarra and Gilberto. However striker Robin Van Persie (knee) is still a couple of weeks away from a return.

"We have lost Alex Hleb and Mathieu Flamini from Saturday at Villa," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online on Tuesday afternoon. "We have no-one back so that's Diaby, Van Persie, Hleb, Flamini and Fabregas out for this game.

"At one stage we thought it was congested in midfield but now it looks bare," he joked. "But we still have quality players coming in there. We have Gilberto while Denilson is back after an injury. He is travelling with us. So we are very confident that we are still strong in the midfield."

Hleb and Fabregas are unlikely to be back for Arsenal's return to the North-East on Sunday at Middlesbrough however there is more optimism over the chances of Flamini playing at the Riverside Stadium.


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4 Dec 2007