Cesc Fabregas ready for fitness battle ahead of Carling Cup final

Cesc Fabregas insists he will do everything in his power to make sure that he leads Arsenal out in the Carling Cup final this weekend despite picking up a hamstring injury in the Gunners' 1-0 win over Stoke last night.

Fabregas limped out of the victory after just 14 minutes when he felt discomfort in his hamstring and was joined on the sidelines in the second half by team-mate Theo Walcott, who sprained his ankle in a clumsy tackle by Dean Whitehead.

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger ruled Walcott out of Sunday's Wembley showdown with Birmingham but Fabregas will be assessed by the club's medical staff today to see if he will be fit for the clash he so desperately wants to be a part of.

Fabregas said on Twitter last night: "I dont know if I'll make Sunday or not, but all I know is that from this moment to Sunday I won't sleep if it's necessary. I've waited too long to captain a final for Arsenal and I won't give up till the last second."

Wenger admitted last night that he did not know how long the pair would be out for.

The worst case scenario for the Gunners is that Walcott and Fabregas, who has struggled with hamstring problems in the past, will not be fit for the second leg of the club's Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona in two weeks' time.

Wenger said: "Theo Walcott has an ankle sprain and he is out. For how long, I don't know, but he is definitely out of Sunday.

"Fabregas has a hamstring problem. It is impossible to see how serious it is. We will know on Thursday."

Wenger confirmed that he will know by Friday whether Laurent Koscielny and Robin van Persie, who are struggling with back and hamstring complaints respectively, will be fit for Sunday's game.

Last night's scrappy win, which came courtesy of Sebastien Squillaci's first-half header, moved the Gunners to within one point of Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Wenger was happy that his side showed the resolve to bounce back from Fabregas' early departure to overcome a determined Stoke side.

"I think we have matured, certainly, because we won a game tonight when we were less creative and fluent, with intelligence and calm and that is what has changed.

"One or two years ago we would have dropped points. Tonight they couldn't make mistakes. We must take a lot of credit because of that."

Potters boss Tony Pulis was proud of the way his 10th-placed team held their own and was upset not to have grabbed a point.

"For the first 10 minutes we looked like rabbits in headlights," Pulis said.

"They looked like scoring from any phase of play and it looked as though it was going to be a long night.

"Gradually we got into the game and we were desperately disappointed not to get something from it in the end."

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