Arsenal have been dealt another blow with the news that midfielder Jack Wilshere could be sidelined for three weeks with an ankle injury.
Wilshere suffered a setback in training on Monday during his recovery from the ankle injury that was initially expected to rule him out for one week but now looks certain to sideline him not only for his club but also for England, who have two Euro 2012 qualifiers approaching.
The midfielder's absence comes as another blow to Arsene Wenger, who has seen Cesc Fabregas leave for Barcelona and Samir Nasri inch closer to a move to Manchester City, as he prepares to face Udinese in a vital Champions League qualifier on Wednesday.
Wenger said of Wilshere: ''No chance he will be fit for England. 'It's not ideal for us on the day we sell (Samir) Nasri.''
''I don't know if we are back to square one or for how long he will be out. 'He's in a (protective) boot again, so that means he will at least be out for two or three weeks.''
Wenger claimed Wilshere's problems dated back to England's qualifier against Switzerland in June. The 19-year-old was thought to have recovered over the summer but he limped off after just seven minutes of the Gunners' Emirates Cup match with New York Red Bulls last month.
Club doctors predicted a week's absence but the injury turned out to be more serious and he was forced to wear the protective boot, which he is now wearing again.
Wenger said: ''He had a setback. It's a hotspot on the bone of his ankle that if you continue to play, it can lead to a stress fracture. So we had to stop him. He felt the first sign in the second half of the game against Switzerland.
''After that, during the holidays, it was all right and then his pain increased when we were on tour in Asia. We had two good test days on Friday and Saturday. Yesterday morning, we had a test with the squad and he felt it again.''
Wenger repeatedly expressed concern last term about the number of games played by Wilshere in his breakthrough season at the Emirates.
The Frenchman won his running battle with England Under-21 counterpart Stuart Pearce over Wilshere's inclusion in the squad for the summer's European Championships in Denmark.
Wenger said: ''He was in the red like I told you and, in fairness, what nobody wanted to hear. We knew he was in the red in the last two months and we continued to play him because we had no choice. But maybe it is a consequence of the overuse last year.''
Wilshere's absence leaves an already short Arsenal squad with major concerns ahead of their potentially lucrative trip to Udinese on Wednesday, with Samir Nasri confirmed as absent after the Gunners agreed terms with Manchester City over the Frenchman's sale.
Elsewhere, there are injury doubts over Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby is still missing and Cesc Fabregas is no longer at the club, after completing his move to Barcelona. Alex Song and Emmanuel Frimpong will be allowed to play as their Premier League suspensions do not carry into European football, while the pressure will be on Aaron Ramsey to provide some creativity from central midfield.
Arsenal's defensive worries could be boosted by the return to training of Johan Djourou after Laurent Koscielny's injury at the weekend, while 18-year-old Ignasi Miquel is also ready to help plug any gaps again as he did against Liverpool.