By Chris Harris

Arsenal will be down to the bare bones in defence on Saturday after Bacary Sagna was ruled out of the FA Cup Semi-Final.

The French right back missed the midweek victory over Villarreal with an illness and he has not recovered in time to face Chelsea. To make matters worse, Kieran Gibbs must pass a fitness test on his groin injury before he is cleared to play.

With William Gallas, Johan Djourou (both knee) and Gael Clichy (back) all sidelined, Arsène Wenger may have little option but to move Mikael Silvestre to left back and deploy Alex Song in central defence.

“It’s bad news, Sagna is not back,” confirmed Wenger at his pre-match press conference.

“He’s still sick. He came to the training ground but he feels very weak and he lost some weight. He’s not right. It is a virus, we don’t know really what kind of virus it is but it’s weakening him.

“I must say that we are now short in numbers but in quality we are still strong and Gibbs has shown that. But he has as well some fitness problems which we have to assess tomorrow. He did have a little test today but not a very strong one. 

“We are now short because we many players out at the back. When you consider that Gallas, Djourou and Clichy together, and Almunia, are all out, that’s a lot in the defensive part of our squad.”

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17 Apr 2009