LONDON COLNEY, March 30 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will give Cesc Fabregas until the last minute to prove his fitness for Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona as the Gunners captain struggles to recover from a knee injury.Fabregas suffered bruising to his right knee and leg after a tackle from Craig Gardner during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Birmingham and was unable to train with the rest of the squad at their London Colney base on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old still hopes to play through the pain barrier in the first leg clash with his former club at the Emirates Stadium and Wenger will give the Spain midfielder until the pre-match warm-up to prove his fitness.
"He didn’t appear in training because at the moment he is not fit to play. We will give ourselves 24 hours more to assess the situation," Wenger said on Tuesday.
"It is too early to say. Sometimes 24 hours more can help. You don’t want him to get another kick so it was better that he didn’t train.
"The medical staff tell me he still has a chance to play. We will decide on how he is in the warm-up on Wednesday.
"That tells you how late we will leave it. At the moment it is 60 percent against him playing."
But the Arsenal manager admitted he would only select Fabregas if he is fully fit.
"Would the game be today, he would not play. If he is full capacity we will play him. If he is not fit to play I wouldn’t even put him on the bench," Wenger added.
Cesc is desperate to play in every single game we play. Who wouldn’t want to play in a game like this? He always wants to play every day and I believe it is the mark of a great player that they want to do that.
"He wanted to run off the injury on Saturday. I will know on Wednesday whether I made a mistake or not in keeping him on the pitch."
If Fabregas does miss out, Wenger concedes it will be a significant blow.
The former Barca youth academy product has scored 18 times this season and his eye for a pass, combined with the improved goal-threat, makes him Arsenal’s most creative force.
"The difference is if you look at the number of goals he scores and the assists he provides, that is the answer," Wenger said.
While Fabregas’s participation is uncertain, Wenger hinted that France defender William Gallas may return to the team ahead of schedule.
Gallas has been sidelined since February with a calf injury but he is in the squad for Wednesday’s match and Wenger said: "Gallas is in the squad. He had good training sessions. I have not picked the team yet but he has a chance."
With Thomas Vermaelen available following a domestic suspension, Wenger must decide whether to rest Sol Campbell and bring Gallas back, even though he is unlikely to be fully match-fit.
"He looks physically quite good. He has had three days training and I will now have a chat with him and then decide," Wenger added.
"I have the choice between two experienced players. Sol has played many games recently and a little breather would be welcome. But overall I am not worried too much."
The French coach also revealed that he expects Russia winger Andrey Arshavin and France midfielder Samir Nasri to start after the pair were left on the bench for most of the Birmingham draw.