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Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Friday, 25 February 2011

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas ruled out of Carling Cup final

Carling Cup final
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Sunday, 28 February Kick-off: 1600 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One & BBC One HD from 1500 GMT, highlights on The League Cup Show; also live on Sky Sports 1; listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas walked off the field after 14 minutes against Stoke

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has been ruled out of the Carling Cup final on Sunday with a hamstring injury.

The midfielder joins winger Theo Walcott (ankle) in missing the match against Birmingham at Wembley.

"Cesc is sad and disappointed but it is a very small injury," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Friday. "He will be out for one or two games."

Robin van Persie is fit to captain the side, while Laurent Koscielny and Abou Diaby are also expected to return.

The trio missed Wednesday's 1-0 home victory over Stoke with hamstring, back and calf problems respectively, although Diaby was also suspended, but Wenger said all three would be available.

It is very unlikely Walcott will be fit for the second leg of the Barcelona game.

Arsene Wenger

Fabregas inspired Arsenal to a blistering start against the Potters but left the field after only 14 minutes and was replaced by Andrey Arshavin.

The look on the 23-year-old's face suggested he feared the worst and on Wednesday he Tweeted: "I don't know if I'll make Sunday or not, but all I know is that from this moment to Sunday 1630 I wont sleep if it is necessary.

"I've waited too long to captain a final for Arsenal and I won't give up until the last second."

Ex Arsenal defender Martin Keown

Although he was part of the Gunners side that lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the 2007 showpiece and also started in the 2005 FA Cup final, this was set to be his first cup final as captain.

"He is disappointed," added Wenger. "We all feel sorry and sad for him. The only way we help him now is to win the Carling Cup as he contributed a lot in this competition."

On Thursday, Wenger would not be drawn on whether the Spaniard would be fit in time to face his former club Barcelona in the Champions League last-16 second leg on 8 March.

But the Frenchman sounded more upbeat on Friday and with the Gunners playing Leyton Orient on 2 March and Sunderland three days later, Fabregas could yet feature at the Nou Camp.

McLeish relishes chance to win first English trophy

Walcott will also miss the final after being carried off on a stretcher in the Stoke game and Wenger revealed the Englishman will be out for longer than team-mate Fabregas.

"Walcott will be out for two to three weeks with an ankle problem. I would say today it is very unlikely he will be fit for the second leg of the Barcelona game," stated Wenger.

"I imagine the worst so maybe I will be surprised in a positive way but I just give you my gut feeling at the moment.

"He has a classic ankle sprain. We don't think there is any more damage to it, but it is still a sprain. We are sad for him too."

Aside from the continued absence of centre-back Thomas Vermaelen with an Achilles tendon injury, Wenger said there were no other fitness problems as the club go looking for their first piece of silverware since winning the FA Cup in 2005.

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see also
Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham
27 Feb 11 |  League Cup
Injured Walcott out of cup final
23 Feb 11 |  Arsenal
Arsenal 1-0 Stoke
23 Feb 11 |  Premier League
Wembley play down pitch worries
24 Feb 11 |  League Cup
Hleb may miss Carling Cup final
19 Feb 11 |  Birmingham
I'm staying at Arsenal - Fabregas
06 Aug 10 |  Arsenal
Arsenal name Fabregas as captain
24 Nov 08 |  Arsenal
Arsenal complete Walcott transfer
20 Jan 06 |  Arsenal

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