By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger refuses to believe that William Gallas has played his last game for Arsenal.

The centre back picked up a problem to his medial knee ligament at Villarreal on Tuesday and, as a result, will be sidelined for 10 weeks.

That almost certainly ends his participation in the 2008-09 season and it has been suggested that he’ll be leaving in the summer after a tough campaign that saw him lose the captaincy.

But when questioned at Thursday’s press conference, Wenger’s response was defiant.

“That’s a big question,” he said. “He has a year left on his contract. I envisage him to be here next year.

“He had a challenging season but I believe he had to cope with a major disappointment. You have to give him a lot of credit because he came back with great performances so he dealt well with the situation.

“He turns up in the big games with goals – when it matters. And that was a good surprise.”

Wenger used the same word about his chances of being involved again this term.

“He has a grade two medial knee ligament injury,” said the manager. “If he comes back before the end of the season it will be a good surprise.

“I don’t really know how they measure the grades but I think it’s the degree of laxity and instability. Cesc Fabregas was a two as well, but William's is a bit less than Fabregas.”

Given that the Spaniard has just returned after three and a half months out of the side, Gallas’ chances of playing again this season must be rated as very slim.

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10 Apr 2009