Mexican Vela cleared to play after swine flu fear

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The Independent Football

A swine flu scare has hit Arsenal's preparations ahead of tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester United.

Arsenal's Mexican striker Carlos Vela was ordered to stay away from the club's training ground at London Colney on Monday after club doctors took advice from the Government's infectious diseases experts.

They were concerned following a visit last week from the 20-year-old's family and friends from Mexico. The group also toured the club's training ground. Vela, who comes from the resort city of Cancun, was tested yesterday by Arsenal staff who said he was clear of the bug that has killed more than 150 people in Mexico.

He travelled with the squad for tonight's game at Old Trafford and is likely to be on the bench. Vela has played 14 times for the Mexican national team, scoring four times.

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, said: "We were asked to keep him at home [on Monday] and he was not allowed to be at the training ground. But he was given the all-clear and was allowed to attend training." Wenger will await late fitness tests to Kieran Gibbs (ankle) and Mikaël Silvestre (back) before deciding on his side. Gibbs has been carrying a groin injury for several weeks which is also a concern as he prepares to face World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

That may tempt Wenger to opt for Silvestre's experience over Johan Djourou, although the former Manchester United defender picked up a back strain in Sunday's 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. Djourou lacks match fitness after a knee injury suffered two weeks ago at Wigan. Djourou trained yesterday and is on stand-by.

Andrei Arshavin is cup-tied which means Samir Nasri may be asked to occupy the free role behind the lone striker Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togo international has two goals in his previous two Premier League starts at Old Trafford.

"When you get on to the pitch the people around will be singing against you, they will be hating you, and that can give you more motivation," said Adebayor, who scored in the League at Old Trafford last season and bagged the winner there in September 2006.

"I know they do not like me there because I managed to get a goal, and you just feel like, 'OK, I will show you again how good I am'. I will give 100 per cent to do everything it takes to help my team win the game."