By Richard Clarke
Cesc Fabregas will be at ‘full fitness’ for the Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night – but he still might not start the game.
The Arsenal captain hobbled off at Sunderland just over a month ago with a hamstring injury and has been missing ever since. He was set to return for the visit of Birmingham on Saturday but his reappearance was delayed by a small setback. On Tuesday, no such problems are being anticipated however the Spaniard may still begin on the bench.
Theo Walcott did not finish Monday’s training session because of a small toe problem. But that is not expected to keep him out against Shakhtar. The ankle that had sidelined him before Saturday is fine.
However Laurent Koscielny (back), Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles), Robin van Persie (ankle) and Manuel Almunia (elbow) are still out.
“Cesc is available,” said Wenger at Monday’s pre-match press conference. “He is good and has prepared well.
“He had a little setback but got over the hurdle and is ready to play at full fitness.
“I do not know yet whether I start him or not but he is available. It will be [determined by] whether I take a gamble or not, because he has been out for a long time.
“I have to make up my mind tomorrow but physically he is ready, fit and wanting to play.”
The manager was also going to consider Walcott’s involvement overnight.
“Theo has a toe problem,” said Wenger. “But his ankle is all right and he is in the squad. It would be difficult for me to tell you who will start because I do not know yet.
“But Koscielny, Vermaelen and Van Persie are all out and not available.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 18 Oct 2010