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Five Aside

Wenger not rushing Fabregas back to action

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will not rush captain Cesc Fabregas back to action, despite the midfielder's claim that he is fit to play again.

Fabregas has been out of the side since December when he injured his right knee in the home draw against Liverpool, in a challenge with Xabi Alonso, and has missed 11 matches for the Gunners; but Wenger insists he won't run the risk of bringing him back too early.

Arsenal face AS Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday night, but the Spanish international will not be playing a part.

Wenger said: "He says he could play tomorrow, but I have to tell him it's not possible. But the doctor tells him first.

"Cesc is itching to get back. But after the second leg he will not be far (from fitness) if it all goes well.

"Two or three weeks' normal training. He can play now but a medial ligament takes six to eight weeks and if there is any contact then you can see what can happen."

Fabregas looks set to miss the second leg of the Roma clash as well and may now pencil in the league match against Manchester City on April 4 for his comeback; although Wenger may attempt to get him ready for the match against Newcastle United on March 21.

Wenger also has Tomas Rosicky returning to action in the near future after a long-term hamstring injury, although ruled out any chance of the Czech international playing against Roma.

"He won't play in either of the legs against Roma," said Wenger. "He played his last game 13 months ago so it is difficult to say when he will be back to his best. He has been working hard in training and you would say he will need two months in competition to get back to his best."

Meanwhile, former Arsenal striker Julio Baptista feels Wenger's depleted squad hands Roma the edge heading into their tie at the Emirates Stadium.

"I think we are favourites for this game without a doubt," the Brazilian said in the Daily Star. "The absence of Fabregas, Adebayor, (Theo) Walcott and Eduardo is too much for Arsenal to handle at the moment. (Tomas) Rosicky is also out.

"We know that Arsenal are a dangerous team whatever side they put out, but missing all of these players will be a huge blow for them and affect their chances.

"We know that this will be a tough game with a cracking atmosphere. But we have proved ourselves in reaching the knockout stages so we have nothing to fear. The fact we play the second leg at home is a huge boost for us."


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