Arsenal hit by Walcott injury

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger's problems this week have mounted with the news England winger Theo Walcott has picked up a hamstring injury and will miss Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Stoke.

Walcott, 20, played the second half of the 3-0 defeat by Chelsea on Sunday, with Gunners manager Wenger then selecting his fringe players for the Carling Cup loss to Manchester City by the same scoreline.

The hamstring complaint is described by Arsenal as "short term", and Walcott will be desperate to return as soon as possible as he is yet to complete a match this season after shoulder and knee problems.

Wenger also has Alex Song suspended for the Stoke game at the Emirates Stadium but right-back Bacary Sagna has recovered from his ankle injury.

"We had Sagna out injured but, normally, he will be available," said Wenger. "However, Theo Walcott will not be available. He has a hamstring injury.

"As for the other players we had injured, the long-term ones I do not even speak about. But the players who looked to be shorter - like (Gael) Clichy, (Abou) Diaby and (Nicklas) Bendtner - will not be available. And, of course, Song is suspended for the weekend."

Walcott's absence denies Wenger another option for the central striker role following Robin van Persie's ankle injury, which will rule out the Holland forward for five months.

Eduardo and Carlos Vela shared the duties during the Chelsea reverse.

Wenger has not spoken to Van Persie yet but has positive news following his surgery and left-back Kieran Gibbs' recovery from a foot operation.

"Kieran is doing very well," said Wenger. "I had him on the phone and it looked to be completely fine.

"I have not talked to Robin yet but there again the news I got from the surgery was it went very, very well. There was a lot of disturbance on our side recently [about his injury] but the surgery went well."

Van Persie's injury has been part of a controversial fortnight for Wenger.

The Frenchman was upset with the Dutch FA for the handling of Van Persie's injury and in the last two weeks there has also been a defeat to Sunderland, a bizarre outburst over players looking ahead to the World Cup and his assertion that Didier Drogba "does not do a lot" after scoring twice against Arsenal.

The 60-year-old has also been criticised for failing to shake hands with City counterpart Mark Hughes after Wednesday's defeat at Eastlands.

"Whether I like or dislike someone, you have a responsibility to show the right spirit of the game," said Stoke boss Tony Pulis.

Bolton manager Gary Megson added: "In my view you can do whatever you want, say whatever you like during the game, but after the game you should shake hands, even if you don't particularly mean it.

"You should shake hands because people are watching and will draw their own conclusions if you don't.

"I don't think that is particularly good on Arsene's part and I think he has done it before."