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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 04:01 GMT 05:01 UK
Vieira hope for title push
Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira
Vieira has been one of Arsenal's most consistent players

Patrick Vieira has been ruled out for at least the next two weeks through injury - but hopes to return to lead Arsenal's attempt to win the Double.

The inspirational midfielder feared his season was over after he suffered a reaction to a persistent knee injury during Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Highbury.

The 26-year-old underwent a scan on Thursday and will definitely miss the next two Premiership matches against Middlesbrough and Bolton.

But he has a set himself a target of a return against Leeds at Highbury on Sunday, 4 May.

"I am OK and had good news about my knee," Vieira said. "I have fluid inside the knee and all I can do is rest a lot, but I hope to be back for the Leeds game.

"I was worried because I was in pain I had never felt before and it did cross my mind that I would miss the end of the season.

"But the x-ray didn't show anything significant, so it is a case of resting it."

Manager Arsene Wenger was also relieved his captain's season is not necessarily over, as first feared.

If Patrick cannot really play, it's unfair to put him on the pitch and tell him to play
Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager

"His knee is not as bad as we first thought but the doctors have advised him to take a complete rest for two weeks because his knee is inflamed," Wenger said.

"I don't know how long Patrick will be out for. I have left him in and out so far and the only thing I can say is that isn't the solution as it hasn't got rid of the pain.

"So we have to rest him until he's completely free of pain. It means that we have to make a real decision now.

"It's not an operation, it's an inflammation from a kick, and bone bruising can last anything from two weeks to three months.

"He's had it since we played Roma in mid-March and I don't know how long it will last.

"It's never a good time to lose Patrick but we have to be realistic. If he cannot really play, it's unfair to put him on the pitch and tell him to play."

Vieira has been the driving force behind the Gunners' bid to land an historic double Double.

His prolonged absence would be a massive setback for Arsenal, who are currently three points behind Manchester United in the league but with a game in hand.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Mike Sewell
"Vieira says he needs a rest to cure the problem"



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