By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger hopes Robin van Persie will be fit to face Blackburn when the international break ends in four weeks' time.

Van Persie suffered ligament damage in the process of scoring Arsenal's first-half equaliser in the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham last Sunday and soldiered on for half-an-hour before being substituted with 22 minutes left.

Earlier this week Wenger told Arsenal TV Online that the Dutch forward would be sidelined for "a minimum of three weeks". Speaking after the 5-0 win over Leyton Orient, the manager elaborated on the cause of the injury and Van Persie's expected recovery time.

"I am not a specialist but he overstretched his knee at the back when he made the volley [to score on Sunday]," said Wenger.

"He got kicked or blocked by the defender and overstretched when he hit the ball. In fact we lost Van Persie after 30 minutes, we tried to keep him going in the second half but he was injured.

"It is a ligament at the back of the knee, a tear in the ligament. It is three to four weeks, I take the short delay because I am an optimist but it could be four. As well it is the international break during that period so whether it is three or four [weeks], for us it is the same.

"We have two weeks to play now and then there is a two-week break because of international games. We have to hope it is only four; he cannot play before the international break, that is for sure. Let's hope he can play after the international break.

"I listen to what the medical people say to me and you never know, he can have a setback. You can never guarantee."

Van Persie will definitely miss the next four games - Sunderland at home on Saturday plus consecutive away trips to Barcelona, Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion. Arsenal's first fixture after the international break is a home game against Blackburn on April 2.

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3 Mar 2011