Arsenal lose Gibbs again but Van Persie close to return

The Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs has been ruled out for "a few weeks" with the knee injury he sustained against Newcastle United on Wednesday. The loss of Gibbs was tempered, however, by news that Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey are set to resume training by the end of next week.

Gibbs suffered medial ligament damage in the 4-0 Carling Cup victory at James' Park and will undergo a scan today. He had only just returned from a calf injury.

"[The injury] needs to be checked on the scan tomorrow but it will be a few weeks," Arsène Wenger told Arsenal TV online.

The Arsenal manager added that Ramsey was further away from a first-team return than Van Persie. "Van Persie and Ramsey are very close to coming back to full training now," said Wenger. "They should be back in the group at the end of next week. Of course we should not set the same [recovery] time to Ramsey as Van Persie.

"Aaron will need a longer period to be completely match-fit for the first team. But Van Persie is not far away now."

Abou Diaby (ankle) and Jack Wilshere (suspended) will miss tomorrow's home Premier League match against West Ham United. Manuel Almunia (elbow) and Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) are still in rehabilitation. "Manuel Almunia is maybe one to two weeks away. With Vermaelen, it is difficult to set a fixed time because the Achilles improves slowly," Wenger said.

The manager's mood will have been lifted by the performance on Wednesday of Theo Walcott, who scored twice in the 4-0 Carling Cup win at St James' Park. The winger has suggested that his sharp performances so far this season might owe something to his exclusion from England's 2010 World Cup squad. Walcott was excluded from Fabio Capello's final 23 but has started this campaign well, with six goals in just three starts.

He has already matched his highest ever return of Premier League goals in a season – four. "A lot of people said not going to the World Cup was good for me," said Walcott. "I went back and just rested. I had my first proper pre-season since joining Arsenal and it was a good boost for me. I feel good when I train every day and hopefully I will sleep well tonight and feel fresh tomorrow."

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