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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Zhirkov claims he was fit

Yuri Zhirkov has claimed Chelsea's medical staff denied him the chance to take part in the run-in despite him feeling he had recovered from injury.

Zhirkov, 27, has endured a difficult spell at Stamford Bridge since signing from CSKA Moscow in 2009, with injuries hampering his opportunities at the club. He has suffered problems with his Achilles and knees this season and his most recent appearance for the club came from the bench in the 1-0 Champions League defeat at home to Manchester United at the start of April.

However, he was an unused substitute for seven games after that and, ahead of Russia's Euro 2012 qualifier against Armenia on Saturday, he has claimed he has been fit and available for some time.

"I haven't played for a really long time," he told Sport Express. "In the final games of the season in England, I wasn't even able to come on as a substitute."

Adding that he "feels fine physically", he said: "There was no particular injury problem. I had to miss three days before everything healed but the doctors for some reason decided that, even by the end of the season, I had never recovered.

"Sometimes our doctors just don't understand. I trained fully, but they argue that 'Zhirkov is injured and not ready to play in matches'. Where's the logic? If I'm not limping anymore and can withstand training, then why shouldn't I get through games? Frankly, it hurts me even to talk about it and I don't want to discuss it."

Zhirkov is thought to be likely to leave this summer and recently said: "I want to play, not sit on the bench.

"I don't want to discuss now any particular offers or possibilities. I'm still a Chelsea player. I only began thinking of my possible return to Russia as I want to play."

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