Arsene Wenger must make decision over Jack Wilshere

Arsenal manager undecided whether to play midfielder this weekend

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to risk Jack Wilshere in tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Blackburn or save the England midfielder for next week's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich.

Wilshere will be closely monitored after coming off against Sunderland last week with a dead leg, just days after his heroic display for England in the win over Brazil at Wembley.

Wenger started Wilshere on the bench for the last FA Cup tie at Brighton, where his second-half introduction helped spark a late rally to secure a 3-2 win.

However, the Gunners boss knows just how crucially a fully-fit Wilshere will be for his side's hopes to progress in Europe, and so could err on the side of caution if the midfielder is touch and go for tomorrow.

"Jack is looking better, but is still a doubt. He got a kick on the thigh," the Arsenal manager said.

Wenger is likely to try to protect the fitness of several key men, while also seeing off the challenge of Blackburn who were thumped 7-1 on the last visit 12 months ago as they headed for relegation.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen missed both the last two matches because of an ankle problem, which has been requiring injections.

The Belgian centre-half said during a Q&A with fans on Arsenal's official Twitter account yesterday: "At the moment I feel great, I trained all week, so hopefully I will be back really quickly."

Centre-half Laurent Koscielny is another doubt with the calf injury which saw him limp out of the warm-up last weekend, after originally picking up the problem while away on international duty with France.

Full-back Carl Jenkinson will be suspended for the cup tie after his red card for two cautions at Sunderland.

With Kieran Gibbs still sidelined by a thigh problem and Andre Santos having joined Brazilian side Gremio on loan, Wenger's defensive options are stretched, so Ignasi Miquel, the 20-year-old Spaniard, looks set to be involved again this weekend.

Centre-back Per Mertesacker maintains Arsenal must put all thought of tackling Bayern Munich out of their minds as they look to book safe passage into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

"We still have an important cup game on Saturday (first) - we absolutely want to advance in the FA Cup, that is why the preparations for Bayern are not that intense yet," the Germany international said.

"However, beginning on Sunday the preparations for Tuesday's match will be extreme."

Tomorrow sees the start of a crucial period which could well define Arsenal's season, as they go to Tottenham on March 9 and then host Everton before travelling to the Allianz Arena for the second leg.

Mertesacker added: "Bayern are doing superb this year and that is a big challenge for us, but we are looking forward to both legs."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future