By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger will have his fingers crossed once again tonight when the latest raft of international matches take place across the globe.

A dozen Arsenal players are expected to be involved in World Cup qualifiers in Europe, Africa and Central America before they return to club duty for a run of three successive away days at Blackburn, Dynamo Kyiv and Bolton.

Wenger admits this is a "worrying time" for managers and you can understand why. The Frenchman's injury list already features Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo, Abou Diaby and Mikael Silvestre, and he could do without adding to that.

Just as importantly, Wenger needs his stars to pick up where they left off before the international break. Arsenal outclassed FC Twente and Newcastle in their last two games but will have little time to rediscover their rhythm before heading north to Ewood Park. All Wenger can do is hope for the best.

"You know last time when the players went on international duty, we were left with two players," he said after the 3-0 victory against Newcastle.

"The earliest come back on Thursday midday, you play on Saturday afternoon and you have to be at your best, because when you play at Arsenal you have to be at your best.

"So let's hope first that everybody comes back without any injury and, secondly, with a positive experience. It is of course a worrying time for the managers."

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10 Sep 2008