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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
Read
By ESPN Staff

Hargreaves faces six weeks out with broken leg

England midfielder Owen Hargreaves is facing at least six weeks out of action after sustaining a fractured left fibula, his club Bayern Munich said on Sunday.

The news means Hargreaves will miss England's next two European championship Group E qualifiers at home to Macedonia on Oct. 7 and away to Croatia on Oct. 11.

He will also be absent for Bayern's forthcoming Champions League Group B matches away to Inter Milan and then away and at home to Sporting Lisbon.

Hargreaves had an x-ray on Saturday night, hours after he was carried from the pitch midway through a Bundesliga game against Armenia Bielefeld following a challenge with Thorben Marx.

'After we got back to Munich, we drove to see Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt,' Hargeaves told his official website.

'It got x-rayed and it was revealed the left fibula was broken.'

Hargreaves added: 'I need to wear a plaster for three weeks, then we have to wait and see how the recovery goes.'

Hargreaves has been in superb form for both club and country this campaign but the holding midfielder is set to miss a large chunk of the season.

He will be sidelined for England's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Macedonia and Croatia next month.

'That's the way it is in football,' he said.

'Sometimes you are flying high and all of a sudden you are down again.'

Hargreaves was a summer target of Manchester United but Bayern refused to sell the 25-year-old.

His absence poses a problem for new England head coach Steve McClaren, who has seen Hargreaves establish himself in central midfield and win over the many doubters who claimed he was not international class.

Hargreaves has played his best football for England in the past three months and his presence in a defensive midfield role has freed up Steven Gerrard to move to the right side, where the Liverpool captain has flourished.

Michael Carrick could be asked to replace Hargreaves, or Gerrard may even have to return to the centre for the October double-header.

However the knee injury sustained by Aaron Lennon, which requires surgery, means the Tottenham player will certainly miss the qualifiers and he would have been the most logical replacement for Gerrard on the right.

McClaren may find there is a case for recalling former captain David Beckham if he desires an experienced substitute for Hargreaves in the squad. Beckham, 31, has stated his determination to win back his England place, having so far been omitted by McClaren.

As well as denying Bayern a key man for their domestic and European campaigns, a broken leg may also force United to abandon their plans to try again for Hargreaves in January.

United made their interest clear last month as they looked to bring a ball-winning midfielder to Old Trafford.

Hargreaves admitted he was flattered yet Bayern vowed they would not sell. Hargreaves is under contract with the German club until 2010.

United have admitted that they will be quick to act during the next transfer window should Bayern show any interest in selling a player who came through their youth ranks and has never played in the Premiership.