Van Persie and Fabregas boost Arsenal with Rovers return

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The Independent Football

Arsenal are optimistic that striker Robin van Persie, captain Cesc Fabregas and winger Theo Walcott could all be fit to face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, a game the club must win if they are to sustain the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Van Persie came off at half-time with a knee injury after a challenge from Hungary's Vilmos Vanczak in the Netherlands' 5-3 victory in Amsterdam on Tuesday, and Arsenal were yesterday awaiting results of a scan.

But the club are hopeful that the injury will not prove serious. After the Euro 2012 qualifier, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said: "He was hit by a knee just above his own. It didn't look serious but it was too painful for him to carry on. With luck he could play for Arsenal this weekend."

Earlier this season Van Persie missed three months with an ankle injury picked up on international duty. He also recovered faster than expected from a knee injury sustained in the Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham, and was back in time for the trip to Barcelona 10 days later.

Arsenal are also optimistic that Fabregas, Walcott, Alex Song and Abou Diaby have recovered from their respective injuries and will be given the all-clear to return for the vital Premier League match against Blackburn. Arsenal are five points behind leaders Manchester United but have played a game fewer.

Fabregas has been out since he suffered a hamstring injury in Arsenal's 3-1 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League on 8 March, and has since missed the club's FA Cup exit to Manchester United and the disappointing Premier League draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Song has not played since injuring his knee in the Carling Cup final, while Walcott has been sidelined since damaging his ankle in the league victory over Stoke last month. Abou Diaby missed the 2-2 draw with West Bromwich with a groin injury.

Jens Lehmann described his Arsenal comeback for the reserves in a 2-1 defeat against Wigan as "very beneficial", despite making a string of mistakes. The 41-year-old German has come out of retirement to act as cover following injuries to Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski.

Lehmann said: "It was very beneficial. Physically I felt well because I've trained hard during the last few weeks. Unfortunately, we lost."