Gibbs injury adds to Wenger's worries

Arsenal's problems mount as left-back limps out of England Under-21s match

Arsene Wenger's injury crisis took another turn for the worse last night when his current first-choice left-back Kieran Gibbs limped out of the England Under-21s game against Lithuania. With Gaël Clichy already out for another month, it leaves Wenger casting around for a third-string replacement in his defence.

Gibbs, 20, came off in the 21st minute of Stuart Pearce's side's European Championship qualifier in Vilnius, which ended in a goalless draw, in what has become a disastrous international break for Arsenal. Robin van Persie has ruptured ankle ligaments and Abou Diaby has pulled out of the France squad with a calf strain to compound the problems the squad already had.

Armand Traoré, recently returned from injury himself, is the most obvious replacement for Gibbs at left-back to play against Sunderland on Saturday but there are other significant absentees. Both Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson are out, with the latter expected to come back to training, Clichy has a back problem and will miss another month. Theo Walcott is only just returning to training.

Wenger will not see his players until tomorrow morning at the earliest and he still has the likes of Andrei Arshavin and William Gallas in action in World Cup play-off second-leg games tonight. The club were still trying to get an exact report on Gibbs' condition from the under-21s medical team last night.

The fallout from the decision by Van Persie to seek alternative treatment with Serbian doctor Marijana Kovacevic, who uses fluids from placentas to treat injuries, continued yesterday when the Serbian Football Association sought to distance themselves from her. The spokesman for the Serbia national team, who play South Korea in a friendly at Craven Cottage tonight, said that she had not been endorsed by his governing body.

It is understood that the Serbia national team's medical department are extremely dubious about Dr Kovacevic, but allow the players to visit her nonetheless at their own discretion. Aleksandar Boskovic, the spokesman for the Serbian FA, said: "We don't know this woman, we have never met her and she is not involved in any official capacity with our national team."

However, sources have claimed that up to a dozen players in the Premier League have visited Dr Kovacevic including some from Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. United's Serbian winger Zoran Tosic, signed for £7m from Partizan Belgrade in January, is understood to be one of Dr Kovacevic's clients.

Dr Kovacevic's methods do not sound entirely dissimilar from those of Eileen Drewery, the faith healer employed by Glenn Hoddle when he was manager of England. A source close to the Serbia national team said that Dr Kovacevic had cultivated an air of mystique among the players. "She tends to use a darkened room and a lot of candles," said the source.

Having built up a reputation among the Serbian players and welcomed the publicity that her healing powers have brought, Dr Kovacevic was not returning calls yesterday. In the meantime the Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt criticised Van Persie's treatment by the Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini and Italy in general.

Kuyt said: "I was very disappointed [by Italy]. We played a friendly against a big country and if you see the way they kicked us it's very sad for the Dutch team and also very sad for Robin because he was in great form. I think it was a bad tackle. Sometimes you think about this when you play a friendly for your country: there should be more respect for each other, and hopefully it won't happen in future."

exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor