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Manchester City
By ESPN Staff

Babayaro ruled out for up to three weeks

Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder's injury woes have deepened after learning he could be without all his specialist full-backs for the trip to Arsenal.

Roeder has been told left-back Celestine Babayaro may be sidelined for several weeks with a groin problem.

The news came just 24 hours after Roeder received encouraging news regarding £10million striker Obafemi Martins.

Babayaro's potential replacement Olivier Bernard, who joined the club on a short-term contract in September, has a hip problem which will hamper his efforts to force his way into contention.

Frenchman Bernard has yet to make a senior appearance for the Magpies since his return to St James' Park - despite weeks working on his fitness - and the chances of him doing so before his deal expires in the summer look increasingly remote.

With right-back Stephen Carr having withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad with the foot injury he sustained at Manchester City last Saturday, Roeder's resources are stretched to the limit.

Roeder said: 'We will have to do without Celestine Babayaro for the next two or three weeks after he hurt his groin in extra-time at Watford last Tuesday night.

'And Olly Bernard has a hip injury which is different to the one Shola Ameobi has, but at the moment we cannot put a time on how long he will be out.

'Babayaro has been one of our most consistent players recently, but he just cannot seem to retain his fitness and have a long run in our back four.'

Roeder will hope the back injury which forced Titus Bramble to miss the City match will clear up in time, and that Craig Moore will return from Australia's 1-1 draw with Ghana last night unscathed.

In those circumstances he would be allowed to field fellow central defenders Steven Taylor and Peter Ramage in the full-back berths, while winger Damien Duff, who has recently played as a makeshift striker, is an option at left-back.

Turkish midfielder Emre is suspended for the Arsenal trip after accumulating five bookings.

Roeder was happy to see the former Inter Milan player head off for duty with his country in Italy this week after completing an international ban.

Roeder said: 'It will keep things ticking over for him and really, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him and us.'

Meanwhile, Newcastle are puzzled by reports that Barcelona are targeting misfit striker Albert Luque.

The 28-year-old, a £9.5million signing from Deportivo La Coruna, has endured a nightmare 14 months on Tyneside. Even in a striking crisis, Luque could not make the bench at Eastlands.

Newcastle insist there has been no contact from any club, however there would be no surprise if Luque was offloaded in January.