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By ESPN Staff

Eduardo still hoping to play this year

Croatia striker Eduardo has targeted a return to action with Arsenal by the end of the year.

The 25-year-old has been sidelined since suffering an horrific broken leg at Birmingham in February - which proved to be the pivotal moment in a season which slowly unravelled for the Gunners.

Although the Brazil-born forward was ruled out of Euro 2008 as a result, a spell of rehabilitation back in South America proved time well spent as his recovery has moved on quickly.

Eduardo - signed by Arsenal from Dinamo Zagreb in July 2007 - hopes a competitive return is now within sight.

"My leg is getting better all the time and I hope to be back playing again by Christmas,'' Eduardo told Setanta Sports. "It has been a long road to recovery, and there is still a lot of hard work left to do, but everything is going well and I should be back playing again soon.''

The news of Eduardo's progress will be welcome for manager Arsene Wenger, who is hoping for a clean bill of health when the internationals start to return from tomorrow.

Former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre is expected to be in contention for a belated debut at Blackburn this weekend after a thigh problem.

However, Samir Nasri - who has netted two goals in four appearances - may need treatment on a knee problem which forced him out of the France squad ahead of tonight's game against Serbia in Paris.

Midfielder Abou Diaby hopes to be available for the first time this season following a thigh injury, but winger Tomas Rosicky continues to be troubled by a long-running hamstring problem.

Wenger said: "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.

"The earliest they come back is Thursday midday, you play on Saturday afternoon and you have to be at your best.''

The Gunners face a tough travel schedule over the next week and a half. After the game at Ewood Park, Wenger's squad must then head to Ukraine for their Champions League opener against Dynamo Kiev before returning to domestic action at Bolton on September 20.

Such jet-setting may well now be part of a footballer's regular routine - but that did not stop Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor expressing his concerns over travel plans while away with Togo.

The national team left for a qualifying tie against Zambia without him after the 6ft 3in African refused to board the plane at Lome airport because as they prepared to depart separately to the president of the Togo Football Federation, Adebayor claimed: "There are rumours that, if we get on, the aircraft will go down.''

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