Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has expressed his disappointment at missing Sunday's Carling Cup final through injury, although he could still lift the trophy should the Gunners prevail over Birmingham.
Fabregas' hamstring has been the focal point of the build up to the Wembley showdown after the Spanish World Cup winner limped out of Arsenal's Premier League win over Stoke on Wednesday.
It has emerged that Fabregas only found out that Arsene Wenger had ruled him out of the match by reading his manager's comments on Arsenal's website. Fabregas' personal trainer said the midfielder "could" play on Sunday if required but it appears Wenger is insistent on getting his key man right for the challenges ahead in the Premier League and Champions League.
Wenger reiterated on Friday that Fabregas would definitely not be considered, but Arsenal have put in a request with the Football League asking whether he could still be the player to go to the royal box to accept the trophy should his team-mates overcome Birmingham.
Whether or not he takes over those duties from stand-in skipper Robin van Persie, should the Gunners win, Fabregas is hopeful it will not be his last visit to Wembley this season with Arsenal still in the FA Cup and the Champions League finale set for London this year.
"It's hugely disappointing," Fabregas told the Sun. "Maybe my heart was ruling my head when I felt I might play. Now, reluctantly, I must accept I cannot. Even on Friday morning I had hoped to be involved, even if it was on the bench. But the boss, Arsene Wenger, is right and the most important thing is to make sure I get fit as quickly as possible to help Arsenal for the rest of the season.
"Let's hope Arsenal could also be playing in the FA Cup and Champions League finals at Wembley. It could be a once-in-a-liftime season. So while it is agonising I can't be with the lads on the pitch on Sunday, I'll be working hard to ensure I am part of the whole adventure."