Arsene Wenger dismisses rumours over Fabregas injury
Arsene Wenger relishes Arsenal's chance to beat Barca
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists skipper Cesc Fabregas had not sustained his season-ending leg fracture before Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Barcelona.
Reports have suggested Fabregas may have started the Champions League tie with a broken leg sustained in a heavy tackle against Birmingham on Saturday.
But Wenger insisted: "That is not true. We had two independent doctors clarify the bone was OK.
"It was a bruised bone, but not broken - I am 100% confident."
The Spain international midfielder picked up the injury when he won an 85th-minute penalty after colliding with Barca centre-back Carles Puyol.
Fabregas, 22, converted the penalty and then limped through to the final whistle.
A scan on Thursday uncovered the extent of the injury and revealed he will be out of action for at least six weeks.
Craig Gardner's tackle in Saturday's 1-1 draw against the Blues bruised the same area of Fabregas's right leg, but Wenger is certain that the crack in his fibula was sustained against Barcelona.
"There is no doubt about that. He already had a bruised bone before the game and the kick on it made it split," he said.
Fabregas, though, was unsure when the fracture occurred. "Some people think I may have even broken the leg against Birmingham a week earlier - and, to be honest, I just don't know," he told The Sun.
Wenger was incensed by Gardner's challenge in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at St Andrew's, reminding reporters of Martin Taylor's tackle that broke Eduardo's leg at the same ground two years before.
But Gardner insists he made a genuine attempt to win the ball. "I would never try to hurt anyone deliberately," he said.
"The referee was stood only two yards away and did not even give a free-kick."
A dejected Fabregas, meanwhile, is trying to keep his spirits up with thoughts of an unlikely return to action in the Champions League final in Madrid on 22 May.
"Now the recovery starts - and who knows, if I work hard and we reach the Champions League final, maybe I could play a part in it, but of course we must take things step by step," Fabregas said in the Gunners' official programme for Saturday's home match with Wolves.
"For the next three or four weeks, I cannot do anything and am on crutches.
"I will go to Barcelona to watch the team in the second leg, and will probably stay in Spain for a couple of weeks until I come back to London for another scan."
Defender William Gallas will also miss the second leg at the Nou Camp after suffering a recurrence of a calf injury in Wednesday's tie that had already kept him out for action for six weeks.
Like Fabregas, the Frenchman looks set to miss the remainder of the season, with Wenger admitting his gamble of starting his former captain had backfired.
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