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By ESPN Staff

Eduardo 'back in nine months' - Arsenal

Arsenal hope Eduardo will be able to play again by the end of this year as he begins his recovery from the broken leg he suffered against Birmingham.

While Blues defender Martin Taylor is beset by death threats because of the challenge which left Eduardo so badly injured at the start of Saturday's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw, the outlook for the Croatian is less bleak than had been feared.

The striker will miss the remainder of the current campaign, this summer's Euro 2008 finals and the start of next season - but Arsenal's update today suggests the 25-year-old may yet be back in action before Christmas.

A statement on their official website read: 'The club can confirm that following the incident during Saturday's match at Birmingham City, Eduardo has fractured his left fibula and sustained an open dislocation of his ankle joint in the same leg.

'He was immediately taken to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham where he underwent surgery on Saturday evening. The operation was successful, and Eduardo was transferred to a London-based hospital on Sunday afternoon.

'Earlier today, the orthopaedic surgeon and Arsenal medical staff assessed the extent of the damage and possible timescale for a full recovery.

'All being well, Eduardo will have his leg in plaster and using crutches for the next six to eight weeks.

'After that time, partial weight-bearing exercises will be scheduled into a slow rehabilitation process.'

The prognosis thereafter is encouraging.

'It is hoped that Eduardo will be running again in six months' time and making a full recovery after nine months,' the statement added.

'Eduardo will be released from hospital in a few days.'

Taylor, meanwhile, is being targeted by many angry fans - including from Croatia - who have posted threatening messages on various internet sites.

Security personnel had to restrain Croatian journalists who ran on to the road and tried to get into Taylor's car as he left the club's Wast Hills training complex today.

But Taylor has received many messages of support - which Blues manager Alex McLeish claims have helped to limit the psychological damage he might have suffered.

'There has been a furore over the incident which has probably gone too far and we would like to draw a line under it now and let Martin get on with his career and hope Eduardo gets back as soon as possible,' McLeish told Sky Sports.

'I've heard about the death threats and you are going to ridiculous proportions if that is the case. You've just got to get on with it and dismiss those things. There are some crazy people in the world.

'I think Martin's wife was upset at the weekend but he has come in this morning and got on with his life again thanks to the support of everyone who knew it wasn't a challenge with malicious intending to injure a player.

'We've had to rally around Martin because he was mentally shattered by the whole experience. I would have been worried about him coming into training today had we not received the support from football people the length and breadth of the country.

'But the fact he has had such magnificent support has helped Martin psychologically because I felt he could be damaged by this incident as well.

'We have shown as a club we are right behind the big fellow. We have rallied around him, got him back into training. It was important he did that as soon as possible.'

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger retracted his post-match statement about Taylor - whom he claimed initially 'should never play football again.'

McLeish added: 'The fact Arsene has retracted them tells you the whole story. I did say after the game that maybe Arsene has acted in the heat of the moment - and Arsene admitted he had done that.

'We've got to let that lie now, move forward - and Martin has got to get on with his football career again. We are all right behind the big fellow 100% and we are very gutted for him and Eduardo.'

McLeish reports Taylor may have been unable to continue on Saturday had he not been given a red card by referee Mike Dean.

'Martin was horrified and, if the referee had given him only a yellow card rather than a red one, I don't know if he could have played on anyway. You just had to see the look on his face.

'He was horrified, and it affected our players as well as the Arsenal ones. You've got to move on. But it was certainly an horrendous injury, and some of the players were horrified by what they had seen.'

Birmingham striker James McFadden is backing Taylor to put behind him the trauma.

He said: 'Martin is not the type of player to go and deliberately injure someone. He doesn't have a history of being malicious.

'Martin is a gentle giant, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. Martin has to live with the fact he has broken someone's leg unintentionally.

'Martin is cut up but he is a professional and he will bounce back.'

Taylor will have to wait at least a month before he can return to action after he collected an automatic three match ban for his sending-off.