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Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Fabregas faces four-month lay-off

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas took over as Arsenal captain last month

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has been ruled out for up to four months after rupturing knee ligaments in Sunday's Premier League draw with Liverpool.

Fabregas, 21, suffered the injury going for a 50-50 challenge with Xabi Alonso against Liverpool on Sunday.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger admitted he could now make a move for new players in the January transfer window.

"It is more likely but we also have internal solutions and we are not desperate," said Wenger.

"But we also have a small squad so we have to be realistic."

Fabregas hobbled off the pitch in obvious discomfort after going in for the challenge with Alonso at full stretch just before half-time in the 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

"It's the first serious injury that I've had in my career," Fabregas was quoted as saying in Spanish newspaper Marca.

"Everybody gets injured and now it's my turn. I will have to wait, undertake my recovery and return as soon as possible."

My intention is to return as soon as possible to help my team-mates and to do what I like most, to play footbal

Cesc Fabregas
The Spanish international travelled to Barcelona on Tuesday to consult specialist Ramon Cugat, and it has been decided that surgery will not be necessary.

"After consulting with the best doctor possible, we've decided not to operate," added Fabregas.

"If it would have been necessary it would have been the first thing I would have done, but the doctor recommended to me not to do it because I'm young and the meniscus is not damaged.

"My intention is to return as soon as possible to help my team-mates and to do what I like most, to play football."

The Gunners are already without midfielders Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky, who are out until well into the new year.

Fabregas's injury leaves Wenger short of options and experience in midfield with Alex Song, Abou Diaby, Denilson and Aaron Ramsey likely to contest the slot left by the skipper.

"The news is not good. It will take three to four months, we count four," added Wenger.

"He will be working hard to come back earlier but I count four months."

If Wenger's assessment is correct, Fabregas will be sidelined until late April, and would miss all but the last five or six of Arsenal's Premier League matches.

The Gunners are eight points off leaders Liverpool in fifth place, and face a key encounter with third-placed Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Fabregas will also miss the Champions League quarter-finals, if Arsenal get past Roma in the last-16 stage.

"We will miss him, of course, but how much is difficult to say," Wenger added.

Captain Fabtastic
"We have to find a way and we want to find a way to compensate the fact that he is not on the pitch to give everyone a bit more. I'm sure we can deal with it.

"When he comes back he can help us get over the line in the final months. I believe we are able to do it."

Wenger is yet to decide who will take the captain's armband from Fabregas.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia took over when William Gallas was stripped of the captaincy and Fabregas was serving a suspension.

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see also
Healing ligament damage
28 Sep 05 |  Health & Fitness
Adebayor vents anger at Arbeloa
22 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
21 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
21 Dec 08 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
21 Dec 08 |  Football
Arsenal name Fabregas as captain
24 Nov 08 |  Arsenal

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