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Club did everything to protect player, manager says...

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the club cannot be blamed for Cesc Fabregas' season-ending injury.

The Spanish midfielder will be out for the rest of the Premier League campaign after cracking a bone in his leg against Barcelona in the 2-2 Champions League quarterfinal draw on Wednesday.

Reports in some quarters suggested the 22-year-old started the game with the injury and should not have played, rumours Wenger strenuously denied.

"There were some suggestions that he played with a broken bone but that is not true," Wenger told reporters on Friday.

"We have two independent doctors with x-rays who clarified that situation, that  the bone was perfectly okay — a bruised bone, but not broken before the game."

Wenger revealed that he, the player, and the club's medical staff had been meticulous in assessing whether the club captain was fit enough to start Wednesday's game, having picked up a knock in the weekend's draw with Birmingham City.

"After the Birmingham game he didn't practise at all, and on the day of the game in the morning he had a test at the Emirates and he felt he was ready to start," the Frenchman revealed.

"He had another test in the warmup, I asked him after the warmup if he felt perfectly alright and he said 'yes'.

"Medically we had the all-clear and he declared himself fit. At some stage you have to trust the players.

"He did not have a broken bone before the game started."

Wenger believes the break, in Fabregas's right fibula, came in the late collison with Carles Puyol that earned the Gunners a penalty and Puyol his marching orders.

"That will need a big inquiry to tell you exactly [when the injury occurred], but we believe it is on the kick of Puyol for the penalty when he kicks him through the legs," Wenger said.

"It is exactly on the place where he got kicked against Birmingham he got the crack on his bone.

"He had already a bruised bone before the game and the kick on it made a little split."

Fabregas was joined on the injury list by William Gallas — who will also miss the rest of the domestic campaign — but Wenger is hopeful his squad can still finish the season strongly.

"We will need even more to fight together to overcome that," he said.

"When you look of course now we have not [Andrey] Arshavin, not Fabregas, not Gallas, not [Robin] Van Persie available — it's a lot but we want to focus on our targets and still achieve them."

Wenger also refuted suggestions in the Russian press that Andrey Arshavin would be out for longer than the three weeks the club reported yesterday.

"We count 21 days minimum," he confirmed.

"We are on the second of April, so he should be capable of playing again by the end of the month."

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