Fabregas is straining at the leash

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The Independent Football

Cesc Fabregas trained with the rest of the Arsenal first-team squad for the first time yesterday since damaging medial knee ligaments on 21 December, with the manager Arsène Wenger admitting that he has had to convince the midfielder he is not yet ready to play.

“He says he could play tomorrow, but I have to tell him it’s not possible. But the doctor tells him first,” said Wenger, who added that his captain was “itchy” to return but still would not figure in the Champions League return leg away at Roma on 11 March.

“But after the second leg he will not be far [from fitness] if it all goes well,” Wenger said. “Two or three weeks’ normal training. He can play now but a medial ligament takes six to eight weeks and if there is any contact then you can see what can happen.”

The 21-year-old (right) has missed 11 matches for Arsenal since he injured his right knee in the home draw against Liverpool, in a challenge with Xabi Alonso, during which time the team have fallen 17 points behind the Premier League leaders Manchester United. Arsenal have lost during that time, but have drawn five league games.

Fabregas has pencilled in the league match against Manchester City on 4 April for his comeback, but Wenger may try to get him ready for the match against Newcastle United on 21 March.

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