Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will miss Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Porto because of the hamstring injury he picked up against Burnley on Saturday.
The midfielder was forced to leave the pitch in the first half of Arsenal’s 3-1, and having missed Monday’s training he has been declared unfit for the visit of the Portuguese outfit.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger revealed: “We cannot take a gamble, so he is not available.
“I was hoping (he could be on the bench) after the game because we were quite cautious with him and he was not adamant about coming off, yet he still damaged his hamstring and we cannot take a gamble on him.
“Ideally you want him to be there. We want to qualify and the absence of Cesc is not any excuse at all.
“We have enough players and a strong enough squad to still get round that and have a very good chance to qualify.”
Arsenal need to overturn a 2-1 deficit when they host Porto in the second leg of their last-16 tie.
Fabregas, 22, was sidelined for three weeks after aggravating the same hamstring in December against Aston Villa – a game in which he produced a 27-minute cameo appearance as a substitute and scored twice before limping off.
Abou Diaby replaced Fabregas on Saturday and could stand in again on Tuesday.
Wenger had earlier indicated that he was willing to take a risk on Fabregas.
“I’m ready to take the gamble,” he said.
“But if there is more than a 50 per cent chance of his hamstring going I will not take it.”
The loss of the increasingly influential Spaniard will be a big blow to Arsenal.
“You look at the Fabregas numbers and they are amazing – 14 goals and 15 assists. He’s a fantastic player with a fantastic attitude and commitment,” acknowledged Wenger.
More positive news for Arsenal is that veteran defender Sol Campbell did train on Monday and looks likely to be fit to face the Portuguese side following a groin problem.
The Gunners also have goalkeeper Manuel Almunia back after the Spaniard missed the away leg in Portugal.
His replacement that night, Lukasz Fabianski, was at fault for both Porto’s goals.