Fabregas on brink of comeback

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LONDON, October 18- Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas could make his comeback from injury after being named in the Gunners squad for their crucial Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed the return of the Spanish midfielder, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since last month, at a press conference here Monday.

Winger Theo Walcott, who injured an ankle on England duty last month, has also been named in the squad along with striker Nicklas Bendtner, who had been nursing a groin strain.

Wenger however said he was unsure whether Fabregas would start.

"Cesc has prepared well. He had a little setback, but got over the hurdle and is ready to play at full fitness, but whether I start him or not, I do not know yet," Wenger said.

"It will be whether I take a gamble or not, because he has been out for a long time.

"But physically he is ready and fit – and wanting to play. You know his influence on our team, he is our leader, our passer, he has a good level of assists and a good goalscoring record.

"Ideally you want him in the team."

A victory for the Gunners at the Emirates will leave Wenger’s team three points clear at the top of Group H, which they currently lead on goal difference from Shakhtar after both sides won their opening two matches.

"It is a key game because it gives us an opportunity to basically think we have qualified," Wenger said.

"In this group until now you had 12 points at stake – six went to Shakhtar, six went to Arsenal. That means what is at stake is the qualifying and also the top of the group, which is why it is a very important game.

Wenger meanwhile declined to comment on the saga embroiling Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, who is the subject of intense speculation about his future at Old Trafford.

"What I make of it is that I have enough problems here not to be involved in that," Wenger told reporters. "We are not in a transfer period at all.

"We are in front of a big Champions League game and for us it is very important to focus on that.

"Then again, any little incident at Manchester United or Arsenal becomes a big story, but it doesn’t mean that there is something real behind the story.

"Maybe yes, maybe no – but I don’t know enough to be involved in that."

Wenger, however, said any departure of Rooney would not necessarily change the complexion of the Premier League title race.

"Chelsea won the championship last year. Rooney was at Manchester United and that didn’t stop Chelsea from winning the championship," he said.

"What is important is that you perform well.

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