Arsène Wenger has not ruled out the extraordinary possibility of asking Kolo Touré to play two games in three days to ease what is rapidly becoming an injury crisis in the centre of Arsenal's defence.
His side face Blackburn Rovers on Monday with three centre-halves missing and Touré on his way back from Africa.
The Ivorian is due to play against Ghana today in the African Nations Cup third-place play-off after his side's 4-1 semi-final defeat to Egypt on Thursday night. Arsenal are looking into the possibility of flying him from Accra to London immediately after the game with a view to playing against Blackburn at the Emirates on Monday night.
Touré, 26, had a disastrous end to the African Nations Cup at the hands of Egypt, especially in the case of his opponents' third goal.
Turned inside out by striker Amr Zaki, Touré virtually turned his back on the ball and allowed the Egyptian to run and shoot unchecked.
If Wenger decides to play him against Blackburn, Touré faces a seven-hour flight little more than 24 hours before kick-off.
With Johann Djourou injured and Alex Song still in Ghana with finalists Cameroon, Wenger also has an injury to Philippe Senderos, sustained against England at Wembley on Wednesday night. The Swiss defender has injured medial ligaments in his knee and, although he believes he is fit to play, Wenger said that Arsenal's medical staff have their doubts.
"We are very short at the back, with Justin Hoyte or Gilberto to come in if Senderos doesn't play," Wenger said. "At the moment we are down to the bare bones, because the team is really, really short."
Emmanuel Eboué will also be returning from duty with the Ivory Coast and is unlikely to be unavailable.
Mathieu Flamini was also injured on international duty with France, Manuel Almunia is ill and Abou Diaby has a calf injury.
With Robin van Persie and Tomas Rosicky also missing, Wenger finds his squad plunged into an injury crisis.Reuse content