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Wenger loses striker for key period, but it could have been more

By Oliver Yew

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger heads into what could be a defining week of his club's season without in-form striker Robin van Persie.

The Dutch forward has been in red hot form for the Gunners of late, scoring 13 goals in his last 11 games, but the Gunners will have to cope without the 27-year-old after he injured his knee in the League Cup final defeat to Birmingham.

Incredibly, the former Feyenoord striker played on until the 69th minute despite having sustained the clearly painful injury when equalising for Arsenal in the first half.

Wenger has since revealed that Van Persie will be out for the next three to four weeks, but the Gunners are fortunate that his reluctance to substitute the forward has not led to a longer term problem and even surgery.

Mr Matthew Bartlett, Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon at BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital, told "The time scale the player faces out does seriously depend on the extent of the injury but if it is a slight strain the injury can be brushed off in a matter of weeks.

“But if there is more damage to the ligaments it could require surgery and lead to months on the sidelines."

Arsenal did not confirm how long Van Persie would be sidelined for until Tuesday, but Mr Bartlett explained that is normal procedure with such an injury.

“After a few days the club should know the extent of the injury and after the knee has been scanned they can diagnose the problem," he said.

“If the ligament is strained the injury can be treated by physiotherapy and rest. The player will require a short period of rehabilitation.

“But a step up from that is a more major ligament injury which would require surgery and many months out.”

Arsenal expect Van Persie to be back in action when Blackburn visit the Emirates on April 2. But despite Wenger having concerns over a number of key players ahead of Saturday's clash with Sunderland and Tuesday's visit to Barcelona, it is Wolves manager Mick McCarthy who is left scratching his head, with no fewer than eight players currently sidelined.

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