Van Persie's ankle injury hits Arsenal

Key striker tears ligaments playing for the Netherlands and faces up to six weeks out
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The Independent Football

THe Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has been ruled out for up to six weeks after partially rupturing the ligaments in his right ankle. He was carried off in Saturday night's 0-0 friendly draw with Italy after a heavy challenge from Giorgio Chiellini.

Initial tests revealed the extent of the problem, and after further examination in the Netherlands last night, the 26-year-old, who has started every Premier League game for his club so far this term, confirmed he is out for between four and six weeks.

"The ankle ligaments are definitely torn," a spokesman for the Dutch Football Association said earlier. "After the match our medical staff did not mention a break in the bone but the doctors will be able to tell us for sure. It does not look too good."

Van Persie's goals have been crucial in assisting Arsenal's rise up the Premier League table to second and his absence at this stage could seriously harm their title campaign. Arsène Wenger's side, who trail Chelsea by five points but hold a game in hand, host their London rivals at the Emirates stadium in two weeks' time.

The Dutchman is now a doubt for two Champions League group matches next month, a Carling Cup quarter-final away to Manchester City three days after the Chelsea game, and five further Premier League matches, including the club's trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on 13 December.

Since joining Arsenal from Feyenoord five years ago, Van Persie has suffered a number of injuries that have slowed his progress at the club. In January 2007 he broke a metatarsal in his right foot when celebrating scoring a late equaliser against Manchester United and missed the rest of the campaign. In 2007-08 he had knee problems that meant he missed large chunks of the season.

Wenger is now seriously short of attacking options with the England forward Theo Walcott struggling with a knee injury and Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner out until at least the start of next month following minor surgery on a groin problem.

There was some better injury news for Arsenal's neighbours Tottenham last night. The club's head of medical services, Wayne Diesel, said that the goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who fractured both wrists and damaged his pelvis in a motorbike crash in east London last week, was progressing well after surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

"Both specialists are extremely pleased with the result and expect a good recovery," Diesel told the club's website. "Carlo is in a lot less discomfort and is in good spirits." Cudicini arrived at White Hart Lane in January following a decade at Chelsea and has made eight appearances to date.