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Feb, 22, 2007

Henry playing through the pain barrier

Arsenal could be facing the most crucial part of their season without talismanic captain Thierry Henry.

The French striker has been suffering from a ligament injury in his foot for over a fortnight and looked out of sorts in the Gunners' 1-0 loss away at PSV in the Champions League on Tuesday.

'I've been playing with a bad foot for two weeks now,' he was reported as saying in the Guardian.

'I like to go out there even if I'm not 100% fit,' he added. 'It is affecting me but I want to help the team.'

Having sustainted the blow in Arsenal's draw with Middlesbrough on February 3, Henry has suffered inflammation in the area for his past three appearances, although he won't be risked in the Carling Cup final on Sunday as manager Arsene Wenger continues to blood his young stars.

However, the news of Henry's injury will frustrate Wenger as current top scorer Robin van Persie's broken metatarsal means they already stretched in attack.

With Theo Walcott out of form, Emmanuel Adebayor and Brazilian Julio Baptista will have to shoulder the burden of leading Arsenal's line.

Henry, who had a long spell on the sidelines at the end of last year with a back and neck problem, will be keen to avoid any further spells on the touchline with big FA Cup and Champions League commitments coming up.

The Gunners have already had to cope without the striker this season and he has a history of injuries around his Achilles tendon, which have dogged his past few campaigns.

With Blackburn in the FA Cup next Wednesday, as well as the return leg of the Champions League against PSV the following week, Henry's absence may prove crucial; although there are those who will argue that after the team's lacklustre performance in midweek, they may be better waiting until he is fully fit.

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