Fabregas only '40 per cent' chance of playing, says Wenger

Arsenal manager to give his captain late fitness test for Champions League quarter-final tie against Barcelona
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The Independent Football

It is one of the most mouthwatering elements of a tasty tie, the prospect of watching Arsenal's captain Cesc Fabregas playing against the club that made him, but the viewers may be denied. The midfielder remains a doubt for tonight's Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Barcelona because of a knee injury, his manager Arsène Wenger said yesterday.

Fabregas, key to Arsenal's chances against the holders at the Emirates, picked up the knock in Saturday's draw at Birmingham. "He didn't train because he's not fit to play. Today he would not be available," Wenger said on the eve of the first leg.

"I would say 60 per cent against, 40 per cent for him playing. However, if he is not capable to play, I would not even put him on the bench. I cannot give an answer today. The medical staff say there is still a chance and it will be decided in the warm-up, that's how late we'll leave it. Sometimes you don't want to take a gamble and 24 hours can help. It's important he doesn't get another kick on his knee." The loss of their captain, who left Barcelona as a teenager, would be a blow to Arsenal's hopes of a first-leg lead as his crisp passing is pivotal to their approach.

There was some good news for Wenger, though, as Andrei Arshavin trained despite a groin problem while centre-half William Gallas looks fit to play after overcoming a calf injury for a match that sees Thierry Henry return to Arsenal for the first time since he left the club in 2007 after eight years service.